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THE GOLDEN AGE RECORDED, A Collector's Survey. 

Jean de Reszke as Romeo, 1889. 





Forty Years of Opera 





Pint Edition 1959 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 59-8881 



in friendship 


Foreword by Lady Hamilton Harty (Agnes 

Nicholls) 1 1 

Author's Preface 1 5 

Part One The Old Order, 1874-1880 27 

Part Two Slump and Revival, 1881-1890 79 

Part Three The Golden Age, 1891-1900 131 

Part Four Indian Summer, 1901-1914 185 

Postscript A Modern Season 241 

Index of Composers and Operas 248 

General Index 250 


Jean de Reszke 

The Mapleson Memoirs 

My Reminiscences 

Forty Tears of Song 

Memories of a Singer 

Many Tales of Many Cities 

Great Women Singers of my Time 

Student and Singer 


Records of the Royal Opera, Covent 

Garden 1888-1921 
Covent Garden 
Enrico Caruso 
Fifty Tears of Song 

Clara Leiser 
J. H. Mapleson 
Luigi Arditi 
Emma Albani 
Minnie Hank 
I. de Lara 
H. Klein 
Charles Santley 
Percy Colson 

Richard Northcote 
D. Shawe-Taylor 
Dorothy Caruso 
Peter Dawson 


1 . Jean de Reszke as Romeo, 1 889. 

2. The Royal Box at Covent Garden, 1874. 
Q. Scene from Norma* Her Majesty's, 1877. 

** (PfotoAo 

4.a) Albani as Elizabeth in Tannhauser^ 1879. 
b) PattiasAida, 1876. 

5.a) J. H. Mapleson. 
b) Maurel. 

6. a) Lassalle. 
b) Titiens as Lucrezia Borgia. 

7. Victorian Audience at Covent Garden, by 

Gustave Dore. 

8. Prospectus for first London performance 

of the Ring. 

9. Edouard de Reszke as Mephistopheles, 


lo.a) Z61ie de Lussan as Carmen, 1888. 
b) Augustus Harris, 

1 1 . Programme for State Visit of the Shah of 

Persia, 1889. 

12. The Ravogli Sisters as Orfeo and Eury- 

dice, 1890. 

1 3. Emma Calv6 as Carmen, 1 893. 

I4.a) Patti takes a curtain in La Traviata, 1895. 
b) Melba as Juliet, 1896. 

15. Scene from Lohengrin at GoYent Garden, 

i6.a) Tamagno and Scotti as Otello and lago, 

b) Scotti as Don Giovanni, 1899. 

1 7. Destinn as Madame Butterfly, 1 904. 

i8.a) Pol Flagon as San Bris in Les Huguenots, 


b) Self-portrait sketch by Garuso. 

c) Scotti, Tosti and Garuso in native costume. 

19. Programme for La Traviata at Govent 

Garden, 1906. 

20. Scene from first London performance of 


Tfu author and publishers wish to thank the following for permission to reproduce itms from ihtir 
collections. Tht Enthooen Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum; JVw. a, * 40, & 8*9* ioa t u, u, 
i5o, i6b, i8a. The Royal Opera Hmut, Count Garden: Ms. 7, iob t i, *j>, 90 and the book-jacket 
illustration. The Hvlton Picture Library: Not. 13, 140, 17. The Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson 
Theatre Collection: Jfos. &, 75. 


By Lady Hamilton Harty (Agnes MchollsJ 

E gives me the greatest pleasure to contribute this 
reword for my old friend " P.G." P. Geoffrey 
urst. We have known each other for many years, 
having been introduced by our old friend Rose Alper, 
the South African soprano. We have discussed many 
things together, and his knowledge is really very 
great he having followed the fortunes of opera from 
a very early age. I think this book should fill a 
distinct want. 

The Opera House at Covent Garden has been a 
landmark in my life. My father, a great lover of 
music, brought me to London with him on a business 
visit, and took me to see Lohengrin. What a night of 
enchantment the great sparkling house, for sparkling 
it was in those days, the large audience, and the first 
sound of that colossal orchestra. Until then the only 
big orchestra I had heard had been the Hall6, on a 
visit to my native town of Cheltenham. I seemed to be 
swept away on a magic spell the moment the curtain 
rose. The principals were great singers Jean de 
Reszke as Lohengrin, looking superb, his brother 
Edouard, the great bass, as the King, Emma Eames 
as Elsa, Giulia Ravogli as Ortrud, Pol Plangon as 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Telramund, I think Mancinelli conducted, and it 
was sung in Italian. To me, the whole thing was a 
revelation. I never have forgotten the impression it 
made on me as a girl of 15. 

It was only two years later that I won a scholarship 
at the Royal College of Music. Occasionally tickets 
were sent for the students, so I saw everything I 
could. Even then, I was opera-minded. The Gallery 
cost 2/6, and whenever possible I went. I was fortunate 
in that my mother loved it all too, and went often 
with me. My father had died, and we had come to 
live in London. Wagner opera was almost unknown 
to me, but I acquired a passion for it. The season 
at Govent Garden worked rather differently in those 
days. It was short about three months the first 
six weeks mostly German opera, and the last Italian 
and French. After I had just heard Dame Nellie 
Melba, I never thought anyone had quite such a 
perfect way of singing, and I am still of the same 

One of the things I did quite early in my career was 
the First Flower Maiden in Parsifal, as a concert 
excerpt first with Mottl at the Queen's Hall, and 
then at a State concert at Buckingham Palace with 
Sir Walter Parratt. It was in 1902 I first played at 
Govent Garden the Dewman in Hansel und Gretel. 
Kirkby Lunn sang the Sandman at the same per- 
formance; it was the beginning of her international 
career as an opera singer. In 1904 I became a 
permanent member, almost, of the Govent Garden 
Opera Company. I was there, on and off, till the 
1914 war. I played every soprano role in the Ring 
with the exception of Gutrune, but it was not till 
the English Ring in 1908 that I played a Briinnhilde. 


I was fortunate to be singing with great singers such 
as Ternina, van Rooy and others of that same period. 
Again, I was lucky also in being cast for Micaela, 
with Calve playing the Carmen. I also played with 
the great tenor Tamagno in Messaline, Calve again 
the principal character. Then came Don Giovanni, my 
part being Donna Elvira Destinn, Pauline Donalda, 
Caruso, Gilibert, Journet, and Scotti or Battistini 
as the Don. I remember it was Messager who con- 
ducted, but most of the German opera I did was 
with Hans Richter as conductor, or sometimes Schalk. 
For me a wonderful experience. The opportunity 
to hear and see all those great singers was a 
stupendous thing. Battistini's singing once took such 
hold of me that I almost forgot to sing at my own 

Those were, indeed, days of great singers. I 
sometimes wonder, can they ever return? Times are 
so very different; a singer nowadays has to do every- 
thing for herself or himself. There is so little service 
to be secured, and to work at singing, technique and 
learning of new roles, is exceedingly hard to do, when 
one is already tired with doing the mundane things of 
life. One needs time and quiet to think out things, and 
then to work on them. Life is so fast. Flying has 
speeded up things so greatly, and one slips round the 
world, doing a show in one place, and then back 
again for another. I don't want to run down the 
modern way of life, but I can't help thinking that it is 
not helpful to the long life of a singer and his or her 
voice. Of course, I suppose we can get used to it, but 
is it beneficial to the work? I can't yet make up my 
mind, but I'm doubtful, if one has to judge by the 
general results of singing not, I can't help thinking, 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

as great as it was in my early days. The productions, 
especially the new ones, are gorgeous on the whole, 
though I can't get used to the new Wagner setting. 
Still, for me, opera is always a wonderful thing, 
always will be, and I love it. 


ENCOURAGED by the kind reception given to 
my book The Golckn Age Recorded, I offer this as a 
factual survey of all opera of an international 
character that was heard in London from 1874 until 
the First World War. The year 1 874 is chosen because 
it was the date at which the Polish tenor Jean de 
Reszke, who became the principal singer of his age, 
made his first appearance in London. Although he 
was last heard in London in 1900, the epoch to which 
I have given his name may be held to continue until 

As the title of my previous book will suggest, my 
interest in opera was much Stimulated in my very 
early days by the appearance from 1902 onwards of 
those first gramophone records made by singers then 
singing at Covent Garden, which captured and held 
my romantic imagination for so long that 30 years 
later I saw in a flash that, if a^y surviving copies of 
these records could be discovered and preserved, they 
would become musical souvenirs of untold impor- 
tance to opera-goers. Naturally enough, I have 
collected a number of these myself, and have en- 
couraged many others to do likewise. In this pioneer 
field, I was honoured by the BJB.C., in being per- 
mitted to introduce as an experiment the first broad- 
cast programme based upon these records. Whether 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

by good luck or otherwise, the idea was well received 
and was several times repeated. Not the least interest- 
ing item in my collection is the urbane voice of the 
Chief Announcer, Stuart Hibberd, announcing my 
first appearance before the microphone. 

In the meantime I was installed as the writer of the 
monthly feature " Collectors' Corner ", in Sir Comp- 
ton Mackenzie's magazine The Gramophone, which 
post I held for six years. When I contemplate the 
enormous and world-wide spread which the cult of 
the rare record has attained, it is pleasant still to have 
occasional reminders that it was I who began it. 

Few of those who heard Jean de Reszke and his 
brother Edouard can now be under 80, but it was only 
three years between their retirement and my first and 
overwhelming introduction to " Grand Opera " at its 
grandest. So not only was the tradition created by the 
two brothers still undiminished, but I was able to 
meet and talk, not only to many who heard them time 
and again, but to some who shared their glory with 
them on the stage of the Royal Opera House. Such 
reminiscences count for much, recounted as they were 
with such love and conviction; for it is true to say that 
Jean, who is the real hero of our tale, inspired a degree 
of admiration among his followers, both on and off the 
stage, which hardly fell short of love something that 
can be said of no other male singer or of any female 
singer, save only perhaps Teresa Titiens, who will 
figure largely in the opening seasons of my survey. 

While I have, over many years, read many memoirs, 
it has sometimes been difficult to award a clear certifi- 
cate of reliability or even of veracity, while some, 
which bear no imprint of their supposed writers, must 
unhesitatingly be rejected. Much assistance came 



from The Mapleson Memoirs, as from those of Arditi and 
Minnie Hauk, with more cautious reliance on the 
copious writings of the critic Herman Klein, who in 
his own unblushingly biased way has covered much of 
the ground from a strictly personal angle. 

The perusal of memoirs, however, is not in itself a 
reason or an excuse for writing another book, however 
well versed the rash author may be in the operatic 
world of his own generation, and it is certain that the 
present work would never have been undertaken 
without what I hope is the justification of my friend- 
ships and acquaintances with some of the celebrated 
singers of the period, who, together with elderly 
friends, now, alas, long dead and one of whom was 
present at de Reszke's London debut in 1874 have 
supplied much material. 

Of my late stage friends, Emma Nevada, one of 
Mapleson's stars in England and America, was 
naturally a mine of information and reminiscence, 
and my joyous collaboration with Z61ie de Lussan in 
the writing of her memoirs (alas, never published) was 
inevitably as instructive as it was entertaining. 
Blanche Marchesi was a supreme authority on the 
technical side of singing as well as on correct musical 
conventions and practices; and a fleeting acquain- 
tance with Emma Eames carried the writer right into 
the heart of the wonderful 'nineties. Susan Strong and 
Ben Davies put their undimmed memories always at 
my disposal, as did Agnes Nicholls (Lady Hamilton 
Haity), who is very much alive and interested. All 
these added greatly to my mental picture, to which 
Guy d'Harddot, the composer of so many beautiful 
ballads, also contributed. 

I first met Z61ie de Lussan some years after her 

B [I?] 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

retirement at a small party at the Langham Hotel, and 
until that moment I had never seen her except many 
years before on the stage, where she made one of the 
greatest of reputations in the role of Carmen a role 
in which few have succeeded and many have found- 
ered. In fact, so great was Z6He's success in this that 
the great number of her other roles is liable to be 
forgotten, in particular the Command Performances 
and her appearances at State Concerts. The Com- 
mand to Windsor Castle when the complete Carmen 
was given before Queen Victoria and the Court was a 
very notable triumph for Zelie, and followed a 
special performance of Donizetti's The Daughter of the 
Regiment in English at Balmoral by the Carl Rosa 
Company. This took place on November 8, 1892, 
about one month earlier than the Carmen at Windsor. 
The third opera Command was again at Balmoral, 
when on November 13, 1893, the Carl Rosa Company 
gave Auber's Fra Diavolo, and many complimentary 
messages to the principal artist came from the Royal 
Secretary and other royal distinguished personages. 
Five times Zlie de Lussan was summoned to take 
part in the formal State Concerts at Buckingham 
Palace, although able to be present at only four of 
them. On such occasions it was customary for the 
Queen to be represented by the Prince of Wales, as 
her Majesty never attended performances in the 

But to return to the party. Zelie was late, and my 
first impression as she wove her way between the 
tables, making eloquent excuses some time before she 
was within earshot, left me in no doubt that this was 
Z61ie de Lussan. Chic, petite, most evidently French, 
she was charming in manner and full of animation, 



the dark, flashing and expressive eyes talking no less 
fluently than the rich contralto voice, vibrant and 
caressing in quality and without a break or a flaw. I 
was more than content to sit back and watch the 
proceedings, after the brief introductions, until the 
talk veered to singers and singing, which I took as my 
cue. Z61ie then noticed me for the first time, and I 
felt the full battery of her combined forces. "I think 
I am going to like this man", she said. "Who is he?" 
As the party was breaking up, Z&ie asked two friends 
of hers and of mine to dine with her in the following 
week, and turning to me added "I expect you wouldn't 
like to come too ? No !" and in reply to whatever it was 
that I said, "Of course I want you to come, I wouldn't 
have asked you otherwise!" This was over 20 years 
ago, and our friendship continued until her death, at 
an age greater than any of her friends had believed 
possible, in December, 1949. 

Perhaps the acid test of one's admired friends 
comes in the event of a prolonged visit, which it was 
our privilege to offer to Z61ie when for five weeks she 
stayed with us in Sussex to get some relief from the 
German air attack on London. Throughout that 
difficult period, there was never so much as a flicker of 
boredom, fatigue or of fear, even when her eyes turned 
skywards with a muttered imprecation at "those 
devils up there". How clearly do I recollect the look of 
amused curiosity when she would come upon me 
doing something with my hands: "What is the dear 
man doing now?" Every evening she would descend 
resplendent as for a banquet, and would spend an 
hour doing complicated things with cards with my 
wife, which were as obscure to me as were my manual 
labours to her. Then, with the cards put away, she 

The Age of Jean de Rtszke 

would say, "Now I must go and have a chat with my 
dear Mary" Mary was more than a personal maid 
she was a confidential friend and a superb cook. 

I have never met a more entertaining companion; 
and perhaps it was at a party that she was seen at her 
very best. Her gifts of humour and repartee, the 
endless inflexions of her voice, and above all the 
dancing and flashing black eyes, would keep the party 
restraining their mirth until it was possible to relax and 
laugh without restraint. Her facial expressions would 
range from an intense concentration to an angelic 
smile, and never did she say an unkind thing. Al- 
though she was one of fortune's favourites, she never 
traded upon it. 

A seasoned and cynical critic once warned me that, 
if I wanted to escape disillusionment, I should avoid 
making the aquaintance of my favourite singers. Yet 
a kindly fate has let me into the homes of several 
retired artists, where I have received much kindness 
and true friendship, and have witnessed so much of the 
mellowing influence of time upon the nerve-shattering 
successes of the past, that I have gained much through 
disregarding my pessimistic friend's advice. 

Emma Nevada had been long in retirement when I 
first knew her. She was one of Patti's few rivals, and 
was one of the strongest cards in Mapleson's pack in 
the days of which I am writing. At her debut, which 
was in London in 1881, she was very young indeed 
barely 18 and when Arditi, the autocrat at Her 
Majesty's Opera, knocked on her dressing-room 
shortly before the rise of the curtain on La Sonnambula 
he was so taken aback by the lavishness of her self- 
applied make-up that he could only exclaim "Good 
heavens ! Take that child away quickly and wash its 



face: she looks like a clown!" And that was the be- 
ginning of an artistic association and private friend- 
ship that was broken only by the maestro's death. 

Blanche Marches!, the famous teacher of her even 
more famous mother's method, was an altogether 
different proposition. She was brilliant and enter- 
taining, superb to look at, and held the strongest 
views on art and artists. Her great studio in Lan- 
caster Gate was a shrine of the treasures and gems she 
had collected during her life fax more than I can 
remember and this, she would tell me in her rhe- 
torical manner, was the "island" which was all that 
was left of the empire over which she used to rule. 
Blanche was a musical scholar, and coached me 
assiduously. She was a copious letter-writer, and, 
difficult though her script was, it well repaid elucida- 
tion, for it was crammed with wisdom, lamenting 
that young singers were not content to begin at the 
beginning, but insisted on launching out into intricate 
styles before learning the fundamentals of their art. 
"If you start with singing modern music, you will 
never learn tradition," she wrote, "and although you 
may sing Wagner and Strauss you will never be able to 
sing Annie Laurie". True enough, Blanche's favour- 
ite singers were Melba, whom she disliked intensely, 
Emma Nevada, Jean de Reszke, whom she described 
as the Romeo for all time, Tamagno and Maurel. The 
occasional musical parties at the studio were social 
events, where well-known singers might be heard, and 
Blanche herself would sing. She gave a song-recital 
at the Wigmore Hall on the occasion of her 75th 
birthday before a packed audience, which surely 
included every singer in London. "Poor Blanche", as 
Melba would so exasperatingly describe her, did not 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

long survive the reaction which followed that day of 
triumph, although it gives me happiness to remember 
that I saw her once again to offer my congratulations 
on having done herself such ample justice, and having 
so amazingly vindicated the "Marches! method 55 , 
which had enabled a singer of her age to sing unaided 
for nearly two hours before the most critical and 
appreciative of audiences. 

A word is due about Agnes Nicholls, later Lady 
Hamilton Harty, who has contributed the Foreword 
to this book. Looking back, I suppose that she was the 
most accomplished English singer I can recall. She 
was equally at home in concert, oratorio and opera, 
where her voice, which had a celestial and floating 
quality, would cany into the farthest corners of the 
largest spaces. In opera she had a great repertoire, 
generally in the heavier roles, such as the Briinnhildes 
of Die Walkiire and Siegfried, Sieglinde, Elizabeth, 
Venus (and even the Shepherd-boy in Tannhduser 
as well!) Elsa in Lohengrin, the Countess in Mozart 5 s 
Le Nozze di Figaro, Pamina in 7? Flauto Magico, Donna 
Elvira in Don Giovanni, and in her earlier years, 
Micaela in Carmen and small roles in de Lara's Messa- 
line and Stanford's Much Ado about Nothing. Without 
claiming that this exhausts Agnes Nicholls 5 roles, the 
list shows something of her mettle. 

I first met Lady Harty in 1939 at a performance of 
La Bohlme to which we had both gone to hear Rose 
Alper sing Mimi, and it was easy for me to congratu- 
late her with all sincerity upon the great success of 
her pupil, as it is pleasant for me now to recall that the 
friendship between the two, as mine for each, has 
remained unbroken to the present day. When 
visiting us in Sussex during the war, Lady Harty 



showed and proved herself to be an enthusiastic and 
highly expert gardener in fact it would be hard to 
think of anything in which she showed an interest 
which she did not do very well indeed. 

I shall beg leave to exercise some discretion in the 
use of languages for naming the various operas. 
Generally my rule will be to retain the actual un- 
translated title given by the composer to his work, no 
matter in what language it may be sung; thus, 
Meyerbeer's UAfricaine will be so named although 
sung (until the 'nineties) in Italian. Meyerbeer, 
writing in the French style, gave French titles to his 
operas, and logically these should be the correct ones. 
It is not, however, always possible to adhere rigidly to 
this rule without, as I feel it, appearing pedantic, and 
such inconsistencies as Mozart's Die %auberflote being 
named throughout // Flauto Magico will occasionally 
occur. I am not only following my own fancy, but 
also adopting the practice of the period; // Flauto 
Magico was invariably presented under that tide, and 
the score printed so, while on the other hand Weber's 
Der Freischutz, even when sung in Italian, retains its 
original title. Wagner's Der Fliegende Hollander, al- 
though sung in Italian on the London stage as // 
Vascello Fantasma, I have preferred to name by the more 
comfortable and better recognised The Flying Dutch- 

A baffling case is that of William Tell, which was 
announced by the management as Guglielmo Tell, 
but named by the critics generally as Guillaume Tell, 
and this may have been correct, since Rossini wrote 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

the work in the French style and as a French opera, 
like Meyerbeer. 

English was the only language to be barred from 
the premier English opera houses in the English 
capital city, even such English works as Goring 
Thomas's Esmeralda and Wallace's Montana being 
respectably cleansed and translated for Covent Garden 
use. In due course, as will be noted, French came to be 
used instead of Italian for purely French works, and 
German for the operas of Wagner. 



The Old Order 



WE arrive on the scene in 1874, to find that for 
several years before the story opens and for 
several years after there were two seasons of 
Grand Opera running concurrently in London each 
one of such splendour and excellence that there was 
nothing to choose between them; both, needless 
to add, were under private enterprise. Heavy guaran- 
tees, of course, were sought and forthcoming, and 
opera was a social function of the first importance, 
besides being a meeting ground for the great number 
of opera devotees and musical amateurs, who thronged 
London in those days to such an extent that each of the 
two great seasons would run for periods of three 
months and more in the summer, with autumn 
seasons which, if of somewhat diminished brilliance 
compared with the summer, offered a spice and vari- 
ety which would be welcome indeed today. 

At the head of this hierarchy stood the Royal 
Italian Opera at Covent Garden, presided over by the 
wealth and fashion of the day; and it was accounted a 
privilege to be a box or stalls subscriber in this rarefied 
atmosphere. The manager of the Royal Italian Opera, 
as it was known until 1892, when the introduction of 
the French language had already made the old title 
an anomaly, was Frederick Gye, of whom we get a 
personal picture from his daughter-in-law, Emma 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Albani one of the greatest singers of all time. His 
portraits present him as the typical hard-headed 
Englishman of the period, with the massive head, the 
shaven lip and the swelling whiskers so beloved by 
caricaturists of Victorian types. "A thorough business 
man/ 5 says Albani in her Forty Tears of Song, "very 
kind and thoughtful, but always managing his theatre 
in a splendid fashion, while insisting on everyone 
doing their duty. It was real pleasure to be directed 
by him. He used to say that to be an operatic manager 
needed greater diplomacy than to be a Prime Min- 

The other opera house was known as "Her Majesty's 
Opera", and was directed by J. H. Mapleson, uni- 
versally known as "the Colonel", on account of his 
association with the Corps of Volunteers, who had 
already been an impresario for 25 years. TTbis roman- 
tic and adventurous figure is an important personage 
in our history. His American tours are vividly des- 
cribed in The Mapleson Memoirs, and can find no place 
here, tempting though his story is. He was of hand- 
some presence and great personal charm, a charm 
which barely concealed a keen business capacity and 
much shrewdness. He was an enthusiast for opera and 
an incurable optimist, qualities which inclined him at 
times to make promises which he was not always able 
to fulfil as punctually as was hoped, but in his worst 
times nobody was worse off than he was himself. He 
was competent, kind and always unruffled. His 
companies loved him, execrated him, and loved him 
again. The greatest singers, both male and female, 
were his staunch friends in good times and in bad, 
though in their latter days some have told many good 
stories at his expense. He was something of an 


The Old Order 

amateur and something of an adventurer, and a true 
gentleman in days when it was no shame to be 
one. Opera production was his hobby; it has always 
been an expensive one, and he can hardly have hoped 
to become rich by it, but his artistic sense in his good 
days was beyond doubt, and the extremely small 
number of artists which he lost to the rival house in the 
cut-and-thrust of operatic rivalry testifies to his 
success in the personal sphere. 

I shall now sketch in the background of 'stars 5 and 
productions among which the young baritone Jan di 
Reschi, as he was then known, was to make his 
London debut. His baritone period did not last for 
long, but several years were to pass before his glorious 
re-emergence in London as a tenor. 

Whether the true "Golden Age" flourished in this 
or in that portion of the nineteenth century, or not 
in the nineteenth century at all, is a question to be 
answered by each according to his own views. But one 
thing that may be taken as certain is that, allowing 
for the mellow aftermath of the Edwardian decade, 
the passing from the scene of the de Reszkes coincided 
with the end of an age of great operatic constellations. 
It is a safe gambit at the present day to say "and a 
good thing too". But let us be cautious about re- 
jecting the 'star' system. It was an age of great 
singing, with a seemingly limitless supply of great 
singers, such as now come only singly. The gruelling 
training they had received before presuming to 
appear in public had ensured not only their singing 
capacity but their musicianship. Even if the con- 
centrated attention now bestowed upon ensemble work 
was less conspicuous, we need entertain no feelings of 
apology or shame for believing that, for artists such as 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

these, no such drilling was necessary as is inflicted 
upon singers of the present, and that the ensembles of the 
Victorian age were by no means despicable. 

Doubtless, the past has always appeared better 
than the present, and the admirers of Malibran, 
Grisi, Mario and Lablache found only a pale re- 
flection of the favourites of their youth in Titiens, 
Alboni, Giuglini and Faure. What then of Patti, 
Nilsson, Albani, Nicolini, Maurel? And, yet again, 
such upstarts as Melba, Eames, the de Reszkes, 
Battistini and de Lucia? Such a survey could be 
worked right back into the eighteenth century, 
which, according to older authorities, was the true 
Golden Age of Song. The truth probably lies in the 
assumption that any age may be a "Golden Age" if 
its students are in earnest, and are willing and able to 
undergo that training which is indispensable if pre- 
eminence is to be attained. It was no uncommon 
thing for close study to occupy the first five years of 
training, before a simple melody was even attempted. 
There is a tale of the period of Rossini, in which a 
similar length of time was occupied before any sound 
whatever was uttered. Be this as it may, such re- 
flections should give pause to those whose shrill 
voices we too often hear desperately declaiming that 
singing has not declined in the twentieth century. 

But, coming down to the golden afterglow of the 
Edwardian epoch, when we enjoyed the Melba of her 
second period, Caruso, Bonci, Destinn, what, we may 
ask ourselves, could have been more perfect than the 
art of such as these? The answer may be that the 
more severe training of the older days may have 
produced a greater flexibility and versatility, a 
greater- interchange of roles, whereby a Fidelio of one 


The Old Order 

night could have been a Violetta of the next; and 
an ability to interpret classical operas in a way which 
to our generation is a lost art. The operas of Handel 
suggest a case in point, for in them dramatic effect 
could and must have been produced practically with- 
out the assistance of action or even movement. The 
advent of the music-drama certainly led in a direction 
other than that of vocal perfection. Obviously we 
cannot expect to have it both ways. If we like what 
we have got, so much the better in the short view, but 
let us concede to the past the merits which its labours 

As has already been observed, London enjoyed the 
benefit of two rival opera houses producing full-scale 
programmes concurrently, and in our opening season 
of 1874 we find Her Majesty's Opera temporarily 
occupying Drury Lane Theatre, while the burnt-out 
opera house in the Haymarket was being rebuilt. 
Undoubtedly both managements concentrated upon 
securing for themselves the finest vocal talent available 
as a means of attracting the public, but the choruses 
were certainly moderate and the orchestras less 
polished than today. As for scenery, Madame Albani 
tells us that for the production of Lohengrin the mount- 
ing surpassed even the gorgeous mise-en-scene to which 
habittds had been accustomed. We should, however, 
be wise to read this eulogy of the gorgeous scenery 
strictly in context, as it is more than, likely that we 
should not find it very splendid today. In my own 
early opera-going days we had what I suppose were 
remains of the old sets of the nineteenth century, 
and they were often decidedly threadbare. The 
Church Scene in Faust, for example, was played 
either as if in the street, or against a drop-curtain. 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

The excellent built-up interior installed in 1904-5 
was hailed as something quite outstanding; and 
similarly the 'gorgeous' scenery for Aida would, in 
our eyes, appear crude and clumsy. Obviously the 
settings for new productions would have been at least 
clean and bright, and these doubtless pleased Madame 
Albani very much. 

The sets may be considered as related to the move- 
ments and placing of the chorus, who, until quite 
recent times, were treated as articles of forniture in a 
purely operatic lay-out. They were placed in static 
groups, and there they remained, making their 
formal arm movements, as was considered right and 
proper. Whether it has been a good or a bad thing to 
attempt to rationalise this amorphous operatic appen- 
dage and to imbue it with a feverish and restless 
intelligence is something that everybody must decide 
for himself. Should the chorus, in short, function as a 
background supplying the necessary vocal parts, 
leaving the principals as the focal point of the action, 
or should they intrude themselves into the action, 
distracting the eye of the beholder and detracting 
from the performance of the principals ? 

Now for the principals. At Covent Garden, Gye 
possessed the priceless asset of Adelina Patti, who 
already had behind her an amazingly successful 
career of 13 years in London, and was to enjoy another 
similar period of full activity and ever-increasing 
prestige. It would be superfluous at this date to 
attempt to add anything to the volumes that have 
been written containing more or less full accounts of 
the accomplishments and career of this pre-eminent 
artist. It must suffice to say that at all times of her 
association with opera in London she was without a 


The Royal Box at Covent Garden, 1874. 

The Old Order 

serious rival, despite the many who established 
clear claims to that distinction. This unassailable 
position Patti owed to something more than her God- 
given voice, for there were others who perhaps 
equalled her in this respect. But there was that pecu- 
liar quality of timbre, which appealed irresistibly to all 
her hearers and was produced with an effortless and 
spontaneous ease that belonged to no 'school 5 , and 
that personal brightness and petite charm, which adds 
so much to the enjoyment of audiences. These 
qualities Patti had in a special degree; they made her 
a legendary figure for all time. 

Albani was still almost a newcomer, being then a 
young and highly successful artist in her third season. 
She will continue with us until her retirement at the 
end of the century. Marie Marimon was a coloratura 
soprano who served the opera audiences long and 
faithfully, and had made her London debut under 
Mapleson's management at Drury Lane, but had 
been secured by Gye for the Royal Italian Opera three 
years later. The great contralto Sofia Scalchi sus- 
tained unassisted the entire weight of the contralto 
and mezzo roles; her great career, which began in 
1872, continued with hardly a break until 1890. 

The leading tenors at Covent Garden were Marini, 
Nicolini, who married Patti, and Bettini, who married 
the famous mezzo, Trebelli; but there were to be more 
to come. It was in the baritone department that Gye 
was most opulent, for the four in his team were 
Faure, Maurel, Graziani and Gotogni; never again 
shall we find the baritone roles so well covered, for 
each was an outstanding artist. Of Faure it can be 
said with some confidence that he was the greatest 
bass-baritone in the latter part of the century, greater 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

perhaps than Maurel, who was beginning his illustri- 
ous career, having made his debut in Milan only four 
years earlier. Graziani was much admired for his 
beautiful, rich and melodious voice, which exactly 
suited him to the music of what we now think of as 
early Italian opera. To quote Emma Albani again, 
"Graziani was un bon camarade, and liked by all his 
fellow-artists, although given to practical joking on the 
stage, sometimes straining the gravity of his colleagues 
to breaking point" ; in this he was not alone. Cotogni 
was a true baritone, and of such versatility that a 
scrutiny of the roles he undertook would produce an 
astonishing result. Later he became a notable teacher, 
and it is believed that it was on his advice that Jean 
de Reszke re-studied voice production as a tenor. 
The true bass for the opening season was Bagagiolo, 
on whom a great deal of work fell. The chefforchestre 
was Vianesi. The newcomers in the opening season 
will be mentioned according to their importance, but 
before doing this we must cross over to Drury Lane 
and make the acquaintance of the principal artists 
under Mapleson's management. 

Mapleson at this time had two supreme sopranos 
Teresa Titiens and Christine Nilsson against Gye's 
one. Among the great galaxy of talent which we shall 
encounter, it is unlikely that the fame and attainments 
of Patti, Titiens and Nilsson have ever been challenged 
by their successors or contemporaries. Titiens was the 
doyenne of dramatic sopranos, and her extraordinary 
career was drawing to its tragic close. No greater 
personal favourite with the English public will be 
encountered in the course of this work. Although she 
was exceedingly stout and quite without pretensions to 
beauty, it is evident that her homely Germanic face 


The Old Order 

(she became a naturalized Englishwoman) radiated 
something that captured her public completely; they 
were entranced by her majestic presence on the stage, 
by her great gifts as an actress, and by her superb 
voice. Like many great opera singers, Titiens was 
supreme also in oratorio, to which she largely devoted 
herself when not engaged at home or abroad in her 
operatic work. Let the reader therefore accept this 
rather plain and ungainly woman as an artist of such 
genius that her physical shortcomings became un- 
important. Whether Titiens has ever been equalled as 
a true dramatic soprano is an interesting question, but 
it may well be true that not until the appearance in 
London of Emma Destion exactly thirty years later 
was she seriously challenged. 

Christine Nilsson, although equipped with a voice 
fully capable of doing more than justice to a role of 
any calibre, had confined herself to those which fall 
about halfway between the dramatic and the leggiero, 
though her ability to sing with complete success music 
of a heavier type was fully demonstrated two years later 
in her intensely beautiful portrayal of Elsa, when 
Lohengrin was given its . London premise. As a 
personality, Nilsson was the very antithesis of Titiens, 
both in appearance and in disposition. She was 
strikingly handsome, not to say beautiful, in the 
Swedish way, although her piercing blue eyes could 
be disconcerting rather than sympathetic. Her nature 
seems to have been somewhat similar, for she was 
unemotional and calculating, and when these moods 
were on her, she caused her impresario many anxious 
moments by her exacting demands, which the harrassed 
Mapleson generally had no alternative but to concede. 
She is said to have required the exclusive rights to all 


The Age of Jean 

Titiens's most famous roles as well as her own, though, 
once this preposterous concession had been made, it 
may be guessed from events that it proved no difficult 
matter to circumvent it. Someone who heard her told 
me that there was no singer to compare with her, that 
she was unapproachable. The appeal in her voice lay 
less in the voluptuous and opulent tone than in a 
dreamy and celestial quality which may be more 
easily recognized than described, while at the same 
time her acting had a remote and "other-worldly" 
character which placed her apart. A thoroughly 
baffling personage, and one of the greatest singing 
actresses of the time. 

Alwina Valleria was a charming American light 
soprano who had by this time risen to very con- 
siderable fame, and was doubtless invaluable to 
an opera director for her versatility and her willing- 
ness to step into any breach. In later years, when 
she also sang in English for the Carl Rosa Company 
in its great days under Augustus Harris, her reper- 
toire must have been very large. She did much 
coloratura work, but nevertheless easily held her own 
in roles requiring a musical rather than a purely 
technical equipment. Useful as she was to Mapleson, 
it was Gye who sensed Valleria's full capabilities, and 
when this clever impresario succeeded in enlisting 
her under his banner, she found very full opportu- 

More than ample opportunity came to Marie Roze, 
who became Mapleson's daughter-in-law. Evidently 
she had certain attainments or she could not have 
undertaken the very large number of roles she sang, 
especially in the autumn seasons. It is difficult to find 
any dear assessment of her work. 


The Old Order 

The leading mezzo was Trebelli-Bettini more 
generally known as Trebelli who shared with Scalchi, 
whom we met at Govent Garden, the most dazzling 
honours ever achieved in her own sphere since the day 
of Alboni. She was in fact a Frenchwoman, possessed 
of much charm, and was immensely liked by the 
public, and her partnerships with Titiens rank equally 
with those of Scalchi with Patti. Trebelli was the first 
to let Londoners hear the Habanera in Bizet's Carmen, 
which she sang as a concert item before the opera as a 
whole reached England. 

The tenors whom we find already established were 
Campanirii and Fancelli, both with superb voices; 
that of Fancelli was similar, as one who heard him 
declared, to that of Caruso, but he was not a highly 
trained singer. With them was the French tenor 
Naudin, who had created the role of Vasca in 
Meyerbeer's ISAfricaine. 

The baritones could hardly compete with Gye's 
remarkable team, though Agnesi, who was nearing 
the end of his career, and Catalani, were both fine 
artists. An important debutant, who must be men- 
tioned here prematurely, was Jan di ReschL The bass 
was Rota, a Russian, who had sung previously in 
London; and the musical director was Sir Michael 
Costa, who personified mid-Victorian stability, but 
certainly knew his job. 

The operas then in vogue offer an interesting com- 
parison with the repertoire of the present day. What- 
ever we may feel about them, we may be certain that 
our forebears who so greatly appreciated them were not 
lacking in musical taste; it is equally certain that, if 
they could return today, they would get some sur- 
prises. But it is an unavoidable conclusion that, 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

for a full generation and more, it has been extremely 
difficult to assemble the vocal talent necessary for 
the requirements of many early works of a dramatic 
type, whether or not one might wish to hear them. 


Although the prospectus for Mr. Gye's season at 
Govent Garden mentioned no fewer than 46 operas, 
it is unlikely that anyone seriously expected that this 
number would be given. In fact, this seems to have 
been nothing more than a conventional advertising 
gambit in which both houses indulged, generally with 
works not previously heard in England, but sometimes 
with prominent Continental singers. At any rate, the 
number given a round 30 should have sufficed 
to gratify the most catholic opera-goer, though even 
in this gigantic programme only one novelty was put 
on, and that only a partial one, Verdi's Luisa Miller, 
which had been tried in 1858 under Lumley's manage- 
ment with no success. On this occasion, after a mere 
two performances, despite the august presence of 
Patti as the heroine, it vanished for ever from inter- 
national opera in London. There were five Meyerbeer 
works, which shows the trend of the times and the 
opulence of vocal talent to support it. UAfricaine, 
which might excite our curiosity, has not been heard 
in London since 1888, and, except for a few scattered 
performances of Le Propktte in the 'nineties, only Les 
Huguenots survived into the present century, until even 
this grand work came to an ignominious end, in an 
ill-considered performance between the wars. We 


The Old Order 

shall notice that Ambroise Thomas's Hamlet then 
called Amleto was retained in the repertoire for 
annual single performances, by which Mr. Gye 
preserved his production rights. Apparently it was 
hoped that one day this opera might take the popular 
fancy, but it is likely enough that its libretto was 
considered an affront to English-speaking people 
keenly aware of their national masterpiece. In the 
previous year the role of Ophelia had been sung with 
immense success by Christine Nilsson, to be succeeded 
by Albani up to 1878, and by Heilbron in 1879, after 
which Gye's sons and successors did not pursue the 
matter farther. Melba sang the role in 1890, and 
Calv6 in 1898, and finally Mignon Nevada in 1910, 
all in single performances without much profit to any- 
body except the prima donnas. Another single 
performance in this season was that of Bellini's 
Norma, for Mme Vilda could not compete with the 
great popularity of Titiens at Drury Lane in the role. 

In this season Mme d 5 Angeri, an early pupil of the 
great Marches!, challenged the successful portrayal by 
Pauline Lucca of Selika in UAfricaine. She had made 
her London debut in the previous year, and although 
her Selika was considered below the level of Lucca's, 
it was thought that her pleasing appearance and 
pleasant manner atoned for the lack of that dramatic 
fire which Lucca had in such abundance. There is no 
doubt that d'Angeri was well thought of, for she was 
given important roles, including that of Ortruda in the 
Lohengrin premihe of the following year. 

The famous tenor Bolis made his London debut in 
Rossini's Guillaume Tell, in which he gave fall satisfac- 
tion, and, although he did not on this occasion include 
the C Sharps, he left no doubt about his ability to take 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

them without undue strain. He sang with increasing 
success in 1876 and 1878. 

Albani secured her position as one of the leading 
sopranos by her flawless performances in Donizetti's 
Lucia and Bellini's Sonnambula as well as in his / 
Puritani) in which she was particularly well cast. 
Patti elected to make her rentree in Rossini's // Barbiere. 
Unkind pens have written of her that she liked to 
appear as a highlight against the drab background of 
an indifferent cast, with, it seems, little justification. 
Here we find her with Bettini as Almaviva, the famous 
buffo Ciampi as Bartolo, Bagagiolo as Basilio and 
Gotogni as Figaro in fact as strong a combination as 
the company could show. The fact that Patti habitu- 
ally appeared with Scalchi, Maurel, Graziani and 
many others should have disposed of such ill-natured 
gossip. It probably originated around Verdi's La 
Traviata, in which the practice of single-star per- 
formances has been a convention carried down to the 
present day. 

Five performances each were given to // Barbiere, 
Gounod's Faust, Guitlaume Tell, IPuritani, and Mozart's 
Don Giovanni. Faure gave his masterly rendering of the 
Don each time, appeared thrice as Mephistopheles, 
and alternated with Maurel in Guillaume Tell. Verdi's 
Rigoletto was given four times, and after vastly praising 
Albani's GikU, The Times wrote of Graziani, "his 
voice, one of the finest baritones ever heard, would 
alone suffice to charm", and, of Bolis as the Duke, that 
he sang the music better than the majority of tenors 
heard in the past twenty years. 

About the leading tenor Nicolini, who, despite his 
name, was a Frenchman, it seems that we must keep a 
somewhat open mind. The critics at this time would 


The Old Order 

allow no good to be said about him, the true reason for 
which may well have been lost in the mists of time; 
but there is no reasonable doubt that he was highly 
admired elsewhere, and he occupied the position of 
leading tenor at Govent Garden for a number of 
years. He became the second husband of Mme 

Gomez's // Guarany was heard for the last time in 
London with three performances, but it was considered 
too similar to UAfricaine, which was more popular. 

Many other operas were given for only one or two 
performances. By Meyerbeer, there were UEtoile 
du Nord, and Robert le Liable. Verdi was well repre- 
sented, with Un Ballo in Maschera, Luisa Miller, 
Ernani (with Patti, Nicolini and Maurel), and La 
Traviata, in which Mme Heilbron made her London 
debut; Donizetti almost equally so, with La Figlia del 
Reggimento, La Favorita and Lucrezia Borgia. In addition 
to this rich fare, opera-goers could choose between 
Mozart's // Flauto Magico, Weber's Der Freischutz, 
Bellini's Norma, Thomas's Hamlet, Flotow's Marta, 
Auber's Les Diamans de la Couronne, and the Ricci's 
Crispino e la Comare. Such prodigality fills one with 
astonishment and awe. 

As for Mapleson, contrary to the usual practice, 
he opened the season of 1874, occupying his temporary 
home at Drury Lane from 1 7th March until igth July. 

With such an artist as Titiens at his disposal it is not 
surprising to find in his repertoire works so exacting as 
Rossini's Semiramide, (which had six performances), 
Beethoven's Fidelia (six), and Bellini's Norma (three). 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

The first-named became one of Patti's tours deforce after 
the death of Titiens, and, however edifying it might be 
to seek comparisons, we should find ourselves foiling 
back on the floods of verbiage emanating from the 
fortunate critics of that time, with long columns at 
their command, but certainly partisans of one camp 
or of the other. Semir amide for us is dead or beyond our 
reach, but a somewhat sardonic interest attaches to 
Norma, which has had a revival in our time in a manner 
completely bewildering to older opera-goers, who had 
spent long lives under the impression that the aria 
Costa Diva was a serious vocal exercise: such passages, 
whether in Norma or La Sonnambula, call for the utmost 
perfection of cantilena, legato and phrasing of which the 
human voice is capable, and should not be mutilated 
and destroyed by emotional violence. The out- 
standing success of the season was the premiere of 
Balfe's II Talismano, an opera based upon Scott's novel, 
which had nine performances with an unchanged cast 
including Nilsson, Gampanini and Catalan!. 

Except for The Flying Dutchman, Wagner was as yet 
unheard in London. It was Meyerbeer who stood in 
favour with the cognoscenti of the period. While Gye 
was giving UAJncaine, Les Huguenots, Dinorah, Robert, 
and UEtoile du Nord, Mapleson gave seven per- 
formances of Les Huguenots only. In fact, he gave 18 
works as against Gye's 29, and in a less wasteful 

One performance only was given of Don Giovanni, on 
the last night of the season, with both Titiens and 
Nilsson to whet the appetites of the most capricious. 
But the most significant occasion of the season, 
although quite unsuspected by anyone on either side 
of the curtain, was the debut of the young bari- 


The Old Order 

tone Jan di Reschi in La Favorita, which had four 
performances, with Titiens as Leonora. He also sang in 
all seven Fausts as Valentine, and as the Don in the 
single Don Giovanni. Little is to be gleaned from the 
critics, who were cautious and somewhat patronizing. 
It may be remarked that their fraternity in the 
'seventies was generally cool towards new baritones 
and mezzos, while basses were habitually objects of 
sheer contempt. But, it must be said, a friend of the 
writer was present at the Don Giovanni, when he found 
di Reschi wholly admirable. His success was confirmed 
by his return the following season, after which his 
baritone period ended. 


At Covent Garden only two events claim our 
particular attention in a season which, after a quiet 
opening, brought forth a crescendo of admiration and 
praise from press and public alike. These were the 
London premiere of Lohengrin, which we shall later 
compare with Mapleson's rival production, and the 
debut of Mile Zare Thalberg. 

Mile Thalberg's debut, which was as Zerlina in 
Don Giovanni, had occasioned much curiosity, since 
the young artist was but 17 years old, was a daughter 
of the very celebrated pianist who filled concert halls 
all over Europe playing exclusively his own composi- 
tions, and was a pupil and protegfo of Maurel. Her 
success was immediate and emphatic, her confident 
manner and finished style causing unbounded admira- 
tion and amazement. She was to enjoy a further four 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

seasons of undiminished triumph before disappearing 
from the stage. 

Nicolini continued as principal tenor, and, although 
complaints were still made at his irritating manner- 
isms, he was no less famed as a charming and delight- 
ful companion and a wonderful host, who rose from 
small beginnings to take his place among the highest 
circles and to become the highly expert manager of 
his wife, Mme Patti's, famous castle, Craig-y-Nos, 
in Wales. 

The extraordinary personality of Victor Maurel 
holds our attention throughout these pages. The late 
celebrated critic Herman Klein, whose admiration 
for Maurel as expressed in his books was somewhat 
clouded by his firm adherence to the de Reszke- 
Lassalle group, assured the writer that Maurel's Don 
Giovanni was finer than any that followed, while 
reserving the first place for Faure. Intellectually and 
artistically, Maurel was the foremost baritone to 
follow Faure, and through his agency I may claim a 
personal link with the opera of the 'seventies, for I 
heard Maurel on two great occasions exactly 30 years 
later, and if the voice by then was useful rather than 
beautiful, the stupendous art and the gracious and 
noble manner, so free from platform trickery and 
calculated mannerism, was there in full measure. He 
was a really great actor, and at one time followed 
the dramatic stage; he was also a notable swordsman, 
and if it could be true an amateur surgeon! 

There were no other notable debutants, and, 
apart from Lohengrin, no other premises at Covent 


The Old Order 

Garden. But Mapleson, who had always shown a 
flair for discovering new talent, this season presented 
no fewer than three very youthful debutantes; Varesi, 
Chapuy and de Belocca. None were destined for long 
careers a loss to art and music for which their 
personal charms must be held to blame, for love and 
matrimony intervened. 

So emphatic was the success of Mile Chapuy as 
Rosina in the Barbiere, that Patti herself, in a state of 
some alarm, attended two consecutive performances. 
The Mapleson Memoirs, which gives this information, 
adds that so compelling was this young lady's person- 
ality that she captured the hearts of all who knew her; 
and it only remains to complete the picture by adding 
that shortly afterwards she married an impecunious 
young officer and thereafter retired from public life. 

Anna de Belocca was a Russian contralto of the true 
coloratura type, who had appeared in Paris as Rosina, 
Cenerentola, and Arsace, so came to London with an 
already big reputation which she fully justified and 
maintained. Her manner was alert and vivacious in 
all her roles, her voice was of beautiful quality, and her 
singing technique, if occasionally unorthodox, was 
subordinated to her characterizations. 

Among the older singers, the return of the tenor 
Victor Gapoul was noticeable, for he was the leading 
tenor of the Paris opera, where he was regarded as 
having been without a rival. One of the leading 
critics described Capoul as the ideal Faust; and if, as 
some alleged, he inclined to over-play his parts, he 
was on that account probably more satisfying to the 
eye than those who tinder-played, whether through 
lack of ability or otherwise. 

Signor di Reschi continued to please, but without 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

evoking an actual furore, singing Figaro in the Barbiere 
in four out of the six performances, the Count in 
Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro four times, de Nevers in 
the four performances of Les Huguenots, Valentine in 
all six performances of the ever-popular Faust, and again 
Don Giovanni in the single winding-up performance. 

The most outstanding operatic event of 1875 was 
the production at both houses, and for the first time 
in England, of Wagner's Lohengrin, which had a great 
success. There was little to choose in point of excel- 
lence between the two casts, although Titiens as 
Ortruda (we must for the present use the Italianized 
forms for Wagner's characters) must have outsung 
and outplayed d'Angeri. Titiens in the role was 
described as overwhelming, and we may well believe 
it. The graceful and handsome Nicolini was more 
pleasing to the eye than was the somewhat stolid 
Gampanini as Lohengrin, but both gave magnificent 
performances. In considering the two Elsas, it may 
well be true that never before had the public been 
given the opportunity of comparing two such supreme 
interpreters of the role as Nilsson and Albani. In no 
other role, we are assured, did Albani seem so well able 
to realise the inner feeling of a character, portraying 
exquisitely the premonitions which separated the 
dream-inspired Elsa from the mundane strivings which 
were raging around her. Nilsson, from a slightly 
different angle, was never better able to employ that 
unique celestial quality in her voice, in suggesting an 
Elsa on something higher than a human plane. The 
choice seems to have been between the human and 
the semi-divine, and all we can say today is that we 
could wish we could have seen them both. 

As Tekamundo, the subtlety and artistry of Maurel 


The Old Order 

was matched against the bluff and explosive methods 
of Galassi an artist who certainly did not believe in 

In this, as in many other famous premieres in the 
seasons to follow, we may feel amazed by the correct- 
ness with which these relatively inexperienced com- 
panies put such mighty works on the stage. Not until 
the coming of Jean de Reszke in the role, who com- 
bined the virtues of Nicolini and Campanini, were 
comparable performances forthcoming. Undoubtedly 
the score in this Italian version was somewhat heavily 
cut, which, to a public still immature in the ways of 
Wagner, was an undisguised blessing, and, by con- 
forming to accepted social customs, the managements 
avoided what otherwise might have wrecked their 
hopes of success. Lohengrin, which sings well in 
English, is acceptable in Italian, and as Wagner himself 
vainly endeavoured tojpersuade his singers to sing in the 
Italian manner, we may believe that these all-Italian 
performances had much to be said in their favour. 

To round off Mapleson's season, it is noteworthy 
that the first-mentioned of his charming young 
debutantes, Mile Varesi, was so successful that she 
sang unchanged in two Rigolettos, five Lucia di Lammer- 
moors, and three Sonnambulas. Chapuy sang four 
Barbieres, with de Belocca completing the six per- 
formances, and the three Traviatas. De Belocca 
besides shared with Trebelli the four Nozzes in which 
they sang Cherubino. E Talismano seemed to have 
shot its bolt and was reduced to three performances; 
following this it was not heard until 1878, after 
which two seasons of one performance each saw its 
end. Christine Nilsson probably liked the work, but 
it was Gerster who saw it buried. 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 


At neither house did any really notable new talent 
appear, for although Gye's prospectus promised the 
names of Gayarre and Tamagno, both of whom were 
to become established favourites in London, the 
former was unable to extricate himself from his 
Continental engagements, and of the latter's move- 
ments we know nothing. 

The nine performances of Lohengrin at Covent 
Garden last season dropped to three in this, and 
Carpi, who had sung the title role in the three last 
performances in 1875, appeared in each. On the 
whole Carpi was preferred by the critics to Nicolini 
(against whom they seemed to carry on some feud), his 
voice being fresher and more steady. 

This falling off may have been due to the sub- 
sidence of the popular excitement engendered by the 
premtire, which was now transferred to the London 
premiere of Tannhauser. Gye had the opera to himself, 
for at no time did the astute Colonel handle it. 

Again the pomp and splendour of production was 
highly satisfying, and Albani's Elizabeth was acknow- 
ledged to have equalled her Elsa. Despite cuts, and 
again the Italian language, it was thought over-long, 
and The Times critic evidently liked the opera less 
than Lohengrin. Both Carpi and Maurel scored 
successes, but the music of Venus seems to have 
puzzled both audience and singer alike, and Mme 
d'Angeri was not heard in the role in subsequent 
seasons. The overture was already a favourite concert 
item, and was so loudly acclaimed on this occasion 


The Old Order 

that it was necessary to repeat it. The work of 
preparing Tannkauser was to the credit of Vianesi, 
whose personal triumph was never in doubt. 

Gye's season also saw the momentous London 
premihe of Verdi's Aida, which, however, evoked less 
enthusiasm than the Wagner operas. At that time 
and for many years to come Aida was considered a 
work to be admired rather than enjoyed, consisting 
of spectacular effects, processions and brass. It is 
difficult to understand in our day so distorted a view, 
but even in my youth it was still rather diffidently 
referred to as a show-piece rather than a superb 
musical masterpiece. 

The production was under the conductorship of 
Bevignani, who had joined Vianesi in the previous 
year, and Patti sang the title role. It is another tri- 
bute to Patti's extraordinary powers that she should 
bring her relatively light voice to bear upon so typical 
a dramatic role; but she had an effective low register, 
and so naturally perfect was her production that she 
was able to project her voice over the massive en- 
sembles of the earlier part of the opera. The production 
and performance were again beyond reproach, and 
Klein, who had expressed dislike of NicolinTs Lohen- 
grin, was able wholeheartedly to admire his Radames, 
which in itself would seem to dispose of the current 
complaints that Nicolini had deteriorated as a singer. 
The critics were unanimous in their praise for 
Graziani's Amonasro, and while the Amneris of 
Mile Gindfele provoked no adverse comment, it is a 
fact that we do not hear of this singer again in any 
other role or in any other season, and thereafter 
Scalchi became the Amneris of Covent Garden. 
With only four performances, the opening season of 

D [49] 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Aida in London must be accounted something of a 

Elsewhere, the strong advance being made by Mme 
d'Angeri in roles with which she was familiar was 
widely remarked, especially in that of Selika in 
UAfricaine, which got high praise. The tenors of the 
season were a fine team, with Marini, Bolis, Carpi, 
Nicolini and Bettini outstanding, but the basses, 
though there were plenty of them, did not make 
history. A certain re-shuffling of artists tended to 
level up the two houses, for Gye, expecting to gain 
from the defection of Capoul from Drury Lane, was 
prevented by the tenor's illness from taking advan- 
tage of it, while he lost Faure, who crossed over to 

As some indication of the public's operatic pre- 
ferences at this time we may note that, leaving out the 
Wagnerian novelties, the greatest number of per- 
formances was shared by Don Giovanni, Auber's Fra 
Diavolo, and Donizetti's DElisir d'Amore a some- 
what baffling choice on which to comment, for while 
UElisir has shown signs of rettirning favour, Fra 
Diavolo has been dead and buried for many years, 
while Don Giovanni remains a steady favourite.* 

In our time German tradition and methods have imposed 
restrictions on this and on other Italian operas of Mozart by 
depriving them of their proper appoggiaturas and decorations 
which were invariably used by educated musicians as being the 
conventions of Mozart's day. This disservice has been aggravated 
by a very irritating distortion of tempi. 

Erratic tempi, which seem to be a spreading malaise, are 
noticeable particularly in the duo La A darem, and Batti batti 
in Don Giovanni, in which the 6/8 sections are inexplicably 
taken at a different beat from that of the foregoing 2/4 sections. 


The Old Order 

Next in favour came Rossini's Guillaume Tell, 
which was for a long time completely out of favour, 
and has only very recently been revived. Its presenta- 
tion must depend upon the presence of a tenor of 
unusual powers, but neither de Reszke nor Tamagno 
revived it. It was tried again in 1911 at the opening 
of the London Opera House (afterwards the Stoll 
Theatre) but like too many of the ambitious attempts 
in that ineptly run enterprise, its failure was total. 
But a reference to the further revival in 1958 will be 
found at the end of the book. 

Although a mere 29 operas were given out of a 
total of 48 listed in the prospectus, the reader may 
well feel astonished at such prodigality, and at so 
little indication of any decided public preference 
resulting from it. Opera habitues then were unlike 
those of our times, in that they cared little or nothing 
for abstractions of form or of composition, neither did 
they make heroes of conductors. To them an opera 
was a good one if it provided plenty of material for 
the singer's art, and of this the amateurs of music 
were keen and competent judges. The great treasury 
of melodies which has been passed down to us through 
their devotion to the graces rather than to the sub- 
stance of vocal music have been proved to have been 

The only explanation that I have heard of this vagary, which 
was introduced at Glyndebourne, is that older scores marked 
the second sections I'istesso tempo instead of the more usual 
allegro. But where does this lead us ? L'istesso tempo means "the 
same beat" not "the same speed", and, if the phrase is correctly 
interpreted, the allegro follows naturally. Oddly enough, Glynde- 
bourne introduced the slow time in Batti batti much more 
recently than in La ci darem, but we may hope that in time they 
will give the matter further thought. 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

good melodies, expertly contrived for the exclusive 
use of finished singers. 

Besides having gained the valuable services of 
Faure from Covent Garden, Mapleson further streng- 
thened his baritones by re-engaging del Puente, one 
of the most excellent artists of the period, whom we 
shall find in a great number of appearances in a wide 
range of roles for some years to come. Del Puente was 
tall and full of grace, and of such pleasant appearance 
and manner that we may visualize him as the 
Scotti of his period (Scotti made his London debut in 
1899, a-* 10 * was a general favourite in London and 
New York for many years) . Mapleson, in his memoirs, 
while describing life on the company's trans-America 
train, speaks affectionately of him as a first-class 
baritone, and a tolerable second-class cook! 

Despite the promising appearance of Mapleson's 
famous names, it was in this season evident that the 
-appearances of Titiens were becoming less reliable as 
her health declined. The beloved artist was in fact 
a fading asset, to an extent which could hardly have 
been foreseen; and next year, we shall find, occurred 
her final and tragic appearance in Lucrezia Borgia, 
which was the prelude to her death, and the first 
crack in the operatic edifice. 

During this time Mapleson's mind was much pre- 
occupied with an elaborate plan for the building of a 
National Opera House in the immediate vicinity of 
Westminster a piece of folly which is said to have 
cost him (or somebody) a matter of 30,000 for the 
privilege of laying foundations under the Thames 

The Old Order 

mud, which were destined never to support an Opera 
House, National or otherwise. 

The season opened a month later than at Covent 
Garden, when Mapleson gave ten performances of 
Faust, with Nilsson appearing eight times as Marg- 
herita, and Faure an equal number of times as Mephi- 
stopheles, with the Russian bass Rota completing the 
series. There were no new productions in this season, 
but Lohengrin continued to attract. Varesi, the 
successful debutante of last season, advanced in 
favour with each new appearance, and in Lucia and 
Sonnambula her popularity rivalled even that of Albani; 
and Faure, especially in Faust and Semiramide, ex- 
hausted the superlatives of the critics. The absence of 
di Reschi excited no particular comment, although 
we may imagine with what anxiety the young man 
was considering his future. There can be little likeli- 
hood that even he foresaw his own dramatic and 
'Lohengrin-like' reappearance just at the moment 
when all seemed lost for opera in London, when he 
was to lead it back with serene certainty to the heights 
from which, as we shall see, it was to fall so far. 
It is worth noting that Mapleson, in his memoirs, 
does not so much as mention di Reschi's name except 
in his appended list of singers engaged. 

Despite the dark hints of approaching storm in the 
opera world, Mapleson's sky was still clear to all out- 
ward appearance, and we shall find him extending 
his activities and producing new works in the immedi- 
ate future. He complained with some bitterness 
and he was not bitter by nature of Gye's tactics 
in the managerial business, but, as we have no 
record of Gye's views on Mapleson, we will let that 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

The event of Gye's season was the appearance of 
Fernando Gayarr6, the Spanish tenor, who was to 
become a dominant figure in London opera for several 
years. The occasion, which was the Ballo in Mas- 
chera, provided a musical sensation, for the artist so 
far exceeded expectations that he was at once, and 
perhaps too hastily, hoisted to the pedestal left 
vacant by the death of Mario in 1871. That Gayarre 
was a fine and even a great singer may be accepted 
without reserve, and none of those old friends of the 
writer who heard him entertained the smallest doubt 
on that score. He had a trick of making an entry on 
recitative in a thin and pinched voice such as to 
cause dismay to the uninitiated, and then in the 
opening aria to sing with such warmth and splendour 
as to cause general delight. Some, however, considered 
that Gayarr6 was too much addicted to the use of the 
voix blanche, which was indeed a characteristic of 
Spanish singing, while others heard a too free use of the 
vibrato, which in their ears was probably identical 
with tremolo. These latter may have had some reason 
for their strictures, since although a restrained use of 
vibrato is legitimate, it should not call attention to 
itself. Certainly the coming of Gayarre did much to 
offset the absence of Capoul, and the defection of 
Faure was largely redressed by the introduction of the 
baritone Pandolfini, who had created the role of 
Amonasro in Aida at the opera's premiere in Milan. 
His London debut in Rigoktto was immediately 


The Old Order 

Again 29 works were given, Les Huguenots leading 
this time with six performances to the five of Don 
Giovanni. It was a strange convention at this epoch to 
dress Donizetti's Don Pasquale in mid- Victorian cos- 
tume, with the exception of the Don himself, who 
appeared in the earlier fashion: possibly Signor 
Ciampi, the famous opera buffo, declined to conform. 

Gounod's Rom&o et Juliette, despite the advantage of 
Patti and Nicolini in the name parts, was heard once 
only, and the extremely uncertain reception given to 
this work, unless with the powerful and compelling 
support of a Jean de Reszke, is one of those mysteries 
so baffling to the plans of a London impresario. 

The new Her Majesty's Theatre, on the site later 
occupied by the Carlton Hotel, Haymarket, which 
Mapleson duly opened this year, was nothing more 
imaginative than a lessee's replacement under his 
fire policy, and was gloomy, ugly, inconvenient and 
uncomfortable; nevertheless Mapleson evidently hoped 
that the public would overlook these drawbacks in 
favour of the magnificence of his productions. Gould 
he have foreseen the not too distant future he would 
not have allowed himself to become entangled with 
the fortunes, or misfortunes, of this wretched and 
most unlucky building. The season, as we shall see, 
was not without incident. 

The tragic last appearance of Teresa Titiens was on 
May 19 in Lucre zia Borgia, and it is unlikely that the 
beloved artist was in any condition for her work on 
that night or on any other. Rumour had it that she 
was pushed or influenced by Mapleson to fulfil her 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

contract regardless of her condition a callousness 
of which Mapleson was quite incapable; what could 
be more likely than that Titiens insisted on continuing 
out of loyalty to her engagements and love for her art ? 
The story of this tragic night has often been told; 
how, although hardly able to conceal the extremity of 
her suffering, neither her voice nor her acting faltered; 
and how, when Lucrezia fell dead, Titiens supposed 
herself a dying woman indeed, although this happy 
release did not take place until several months later. 
Her death was almost a national event, and to all to 
whom her art meant anything, from the Queen to the 
humblest of her admirers, her loss was felt as that of a 

One immediate and most unromantic result of the 
loss to Mapleson of his old friend and ally was to leave 
him defenceless against the increasing exactions of 
Christine Nilsson, who was arriving at an age when 
the safeguarding of her security was something to be 
maintained at all costs. However, Mapleson was 
seldom at a loss in a battle of wits, and it was largely 
with this contingency in mind that he secured the 
services of Etelka Gerster by way of equipoise. 
Gerster was one of the most remarkable stars in the 
operatic firmament, particularly in coloratura, where 
she challenged Patti herself, when the two were mem- 
bers of the same company during Mapleson's tours in 
the U.S.A. Her success, as had been expected, was 
spectacular and immediate, but so unstable was the 
lady's temperament that only a few seasons of such 
heady adulation so turned her head as to bring about 
a nervous collapse, which made her temporary re- 
tirement from the stage a necessity. 

The brunt of the tenor, roles was borne by Fancelli 


The Old Order 

and Carrion, a Spanish tenor who was said to be past 
his best before his arrival in London. The revival of 
Rossini's Otello, an event sufficiently notable in itself, 
was made more memorable by the reappearance in 
the title role of the great tenor Tamberlik, who, 
though a veteran, still sang with such vigour and 
artistry that it was to him that the evening's triumph 
was due, his famous G Sharp ringing out with such 
extraordinary power and freshness that a repetition of 
the passage was demanded and granted. This interest- 
ing work marked its composer's revolt against the 
caprices of the less responsible singers in the matter of 
fioriture, since it was in this opera that he first wrote 
his own, and insisted upon their being used. Also, by 
banishing the pianoforte from the orchestra he aimed 
at a more accurate rendering of the recitatives. 
Although Rossini's Otello was an acknowledged 
masterpiece, and one in which Grisi had particularly 
shone, it was, like Thomas's Hamlet, handicapped by 
its un-Shakespearean libretto, no less than by the 
technical difficulties of its performance. Mapleson 
has left it on record that, owing to its lack of success, it 
was immediately withdrawn; this may be a lapse of 
memory, for the notices were highly favourable, and 
two further performances were announced in the 
newspapers with the same cast, which included 
Nilsson as Desdemona and Faure as lago. 

Fancelli was the Lohengrin of this season, with the 
beautiful and amiable Marie Roze as Ortruda. 

This was the last season in which the great bass- 
baritone Faure was heard in London opera, and 
although we have had barely time to become ac- 
quainted with him, his great personality, so inade- 
quately treated here, can hardly have failed to make 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

itself felt. Thus early in our work, with Titiens and 
Faure departed, a milestone in operatic history has 
been reached. 

With a company from which a few of the more 
brilliant stars were missing. Her Majesty's Opera also 
opened for an autumn season, consisting of the stan- 
dard repertoire with the addition of Marchetti's 
Ruy Bias, in which the principals were Mme Salla, de 
Belocca, Fancelli and Galassi. The work had been 
produced at La Scala, Milan eight years previously, 
and had been favourably received in most other 
capitals. It had five performances in this season, and 
three in the following year. 

The only newcomer was Runcio, a tenor who gave 
great satisfaction, and continued to sing in London 
for several years; and Signor Foli, the popular Irish 
basso returned to opera, whose real name, the reader 
may have guessed, was Foley. The biggest production 
was Les Huguenots, which absorbed Salla, Marimon, 
de Belocca, Fancelli, del Puente, Galassi and Foli. 
Valleria and Trebelli also sang throughout the season. 


On the death of Frederick Gye the management 
of the Royal Italian Opera devolved upon his sons 
Ernest and Herbert, the former of whom was married 
to Mme AlbanL Generally speaking the brothers 
were content to mark time and proceed with 
caution, and they scored a succes d'estime with Patti's 
triumphal appearance in Rossini's Semiramide, with 
Scalchi and Maurel, which evidently had been well 


The Old Order 

publicized. The opera was awaited with keen antici- 
pation, Patti herself having declared that she would 
never sing it so long as Titiens lived. As was usual with 
Patti, all expectations were surpassed, and she made 
further appearances in Trovatore, Faust, Don Giovanni, 
Sonnambula, UEtoile du Nord, Traviata, Barbiere and 
Aida. London premieres of Flotow's Alma VIncantrice 
and Masses Paul et Virginie created no great enthusi- 
asm, and Albani, who appeared in both works, did 
not, in her memoirs, differ from the general view. 

Of the singers, Capoul was back, although thought 
by some to be showing signs of wear and tear, which 
in the event were more likely to have been due to his 
late illness, for he was still in a condition to sing quite 
beautifully even 30 years later, and recorded for a 
gramophone company in 1904, with highly pleasing 

The company was still further strengthened by the 
addition of Mme de Cepeda, a serviceable and reliable 
dramatic soprano, and by Mme Mantilla, a dramatic 
mezzo with a high range. Gayarr6 and Bolis con- 
tinued to please, and de Belocca was back at the 
Garden after her autumn season under Mapleson's 
management. It is surprising to find no more than 
one performance each of Marta, (notwithstanding 
such an attractive cast as Thalberg, Scalchi, Capoul 
and Graziani), UEtoile du Nord, with Patti and 
Maurel, Dinorak, with the same principals, and 

The London premiere of Bizet's Carmen was the out- 
standing feature of Mapleson's season, so we will 
briefly dismiss less important matters. Though there 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

were no other novelties, Mapleson was so far impressed 
by the reception given to Ruy Bias that he introduced 
the work to his summer patrons with Gampanini in 
the title role. The success of Mme Gerster remained 
unabated, and an important newcomer w;as Mme 
TremelK, a very fine and afterwards important 
contralto. The hunt for a successor to Titiens had 
already begun, and Mathilde Wilde was the first 
to come down in this hazardous handicap, although 
Pappenheim, who followed, was more successful, and, 
without inviting comparison, retained her place in the 
company for some seasons. Frapolli, another new 
tenor, made his debut and became a valuable artist. 

Minnie Hauk appeared almost as a stranger, for it 
had been nine years since she (like so many other well 
conducted young debutantes) had invited the atten- 
tion of London audiences as Amina in the Sonnambula. 
On this occasion, however, she reappeared as a ma- 
tured and very much admired singer in the title role of 
Carmen, another of those momentous events which 
falls within this significant period of Grand Opera, and 
which helped to keep that institution, already made 
precarious by ruinous competition, in some sort of 
shape until the great renaissance of 1887. 

The immediate reception of Carmen in London, as in 
Paris, was lukewarm so far as the press was concerned, 
but enthusiastic among the public, who have never 
been afraid of committing themselves when they like 
a musical work. The critics on this occasion, as on so 
many others, have disappointed us in failing to re- 
veal that quickness of perception for which the mere - 
amateur looks to them, and it was obvious that they 
preferred to await his verdict before venturing to 
make any clear pronouncement. Perhaps the most 


The Old Order 

adventurous comment to be found indicated that, 
being a French opera, it should in some undefined 
way measure up to Faust, and where it failed to do 
this it was accounted as a shortcoming. Certainly 
there is a Gounodian flavour about Micaela, and there 
the analogy seems to end, but unwilling to let well 
alone our perspicacious critic doubts whether the 
Flower Song bears comparison with Salve Dimora ! 

The quickly moving action, with the music so 
closely wedded to the libretto, the generally un- 
familiar idiom and the absence of 'show-pieces' 
seems to have produced a vague feeling of discomfort, 
which may have been accentuated by some unreadi- 
ness on the opening night, and certainly the players 
were ill at ease during rehearsal. Both Minnie Hauk 
and Mapleson in their memoirs have left us enter- 
taining accounts of some of these difficulties how 
Valleria and del Puente, the Micaela and Escamillo, 
considered that their roles were beneath their dignity, 
suggesting that they were evidently intended for 
members of the chorus, and Campanini was unhappy 
at the unheroic character of Don Jose, his ineffective 
entrance, and what he considered the general poor- 
ness of the part. Even Michael Costa, according to 
Minnie Hauk, was so obtuse in the matter of tempi 
that she found it necessary to coax him into a proper 
frame of mind to receive her tuition. 

Nine performances were given, with Campanini 
appearing four times and Runcio five. Minnie 
Hauk also appeared in Traviata, Barbiere, Faust, 
Robert, and, as Zerlina, in Don Giovanni. 

Having toured Ireland and the United States with 
the original London production of Carmen, Mapleson 
continued to strike while his iron was still hot, and in 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

an autumn season he mounted as many as 15 other 
works which between them accounted for no more 
than 42 performances, of which nineteen were of 
Carmen. The gipsy was played by Trebelli with a dash 
and impetuosity more stimulating than the relatively 
sedate rendering of Minnie Hauk; perhaps more 
daring and uninhibited a Carmen than was to be 
seen again until Maria Gay startled London audiences 
in 1907. The exploit may be accounted much to 
TrebelH's credit, for she at once succeeded in a field 
which was to be the scene of several distinguished 

After an interval of fourteen years Weber's Oberon 
was revived, evoked much interest and drew crowded 
houses for four performances. Dinorah, a work which 
seldom exceeded the routine single performance, 
leapt suddenly into popularity with six. That this was 
due to the impending retirement of Marimon, who 
was a great favourite in London, seems likely enough. 
This well-graced artist had been with Mapleson 
since 1871, and accompanied him on the U.S. 
tour which followed this season. Besides the Dinorah, 
Marimon sang four Margheritas, two Aminas, one 
Marta, two Queens of the Night, and two Queens in 
the Huguenots. 

Ernest Gye, who now was virtually in control at 
Covent Garden, quickly established himself as a 
competent and capable impresario, and in this new 
season he fully maintained the standards carried on by 


The Old Order 

his father. On only one occasion were the audience 
disappointed of the promised programme, although 
28 operas were mounted, including one major novelty. 

The new work was Massenet's Le Roi de Lahore, 
which, thanks in some degree to the triumphant 
debut of the great French baritone Jean Lassalle, 
achieved a notable success. It was in UAfricaine that 
Lassalle had first startled a London audience by the 
tremendous vigour and vitality of his art and his 
comma.nd.JTig and arresting stage presence, and his 
performance in the Massenet work fell nothing short 
of it. It is interesting to note that in the famous air 
Promesse de mon avenir (0 Castofior in the Italian version 
here used), a record taken 25 years later shows that 
Lassalle was the only one of the many famous bari- 
tones who recorded the air to sing it with an uninter- 
rupted cantilena. The opera had five performances, 
with Mmes Turolla and Pasqua, Gayarr6, Lassalle 
and Gapponi. Patti appeared as Selika in UAfricaine 
not one of her usual roles but not to her usual 
advantage,- being as it seemed overweighted by the 
music and by the electrical effect of Lassalle's pre- 

Mme Cepeda, whose London debut was noticed in 
the last season, was given the dramatic roles, and 
appeared in the Huguenots, Robert, Tannhduser, Luc- 
rezia Borgia, Don Giovanni, Norma, and as the Countess 
in Le Noz& di Figaro. 

Two performances sufficed to complete the career 
of Les Amants de Verone, composed by the Marquis 
d'lvry to the Shakespearian theme, and sung by Heil- 
bron, Capoul and Cotogni. Heilbron also sang in the 
routine Hamlet, as Elsa in Lohengrin, and as Violetta. 
The cast for the Italianate Lohengrin was Heilbron, 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Mantilla, Gayarre, Cotogni and the bass Silvestri; 
otherwise the fare was much as usual. 

Despite the five representations of the Massenet 
work, it was DAfricaine which led the field with six, 
with the incomparable Scalchi associated with the 
two first-rate tenors Gayarre and Sylva, the latter in 
his first London season. But neither here nor at Her 
Majesty's did either Gerster or Patti repeat Marimon's 
success of the late autumn in Dinorah. 

The exceptional length of Mapleson's 1879 season 
was due to its financial success, and the original 
closing date of July 12- was extended to two weeks 
later, although at reduced prices, to encourage those 
who remained unaffected by the departure of London 
Society. Minnie Hauk became so great a popular 
favourite that she was found to be quite perfect in 
all the roles which she undertook, which, besides 
Carmen, were Alice in Robert, Zerlina in Don Gio- 
vanni, Elsa in Lohengrin, Margherita in Faust, and 
Gherubino in Noz& di Figaro. This personal success, 
as well as a smaller one gained by a youthful de- 
butante, Marie van Zandt, was some compensation 
for the illnesses in the early days of the season of 
Campaiuni, Nilsson and Gerster. Van Zandt made a 
considerable career in Europe, where the . opera 
houses were not too big for her, and she was always 
admired for her neat and well-finished interpretations. 
Libia Drog was less successful in London than after- 
wards in America, but Glara Louise Kellogg, whose 
re-appearance was in Mapleson's first production of 
Aida, was very well received. This opera had ten 


The Old Order 

performances, with Kellogg and Trebelli singing un- 
changed. Radames was sung by Campanini nine 
times, as was Amonasro by Galassi. Foli and Monti 
sang the Priest five times each. 

Another notable reappearance was that of Luigi 
Arditi, who now assisted Costa as musical director, 
after a separation from Mapleson of nine years. 

In 17 performances of Carmen, Hank appeared in 
15 and Trebelli in two. Del Puente was the Don in 
five performances of Don Giovanni; and in Mignon, 
which this year was produced at Her Majesty's for 
the first time, Christine Nilsson added another vivid 
portrait to her gallery of operatic heroines. By this 
time she had evidently grown tired of her role of 
Edith Plantagenet in tt Talismano, which was now 
sung by Mme Gerster. There were single perform- 
ances of Fidelio (Pappenheim), Puritam and Tolls- 
mano, both with Gerster, who also sang in Doni- 
zetti's Linda di Chamouni, and Lucia, E Flauto Magico> 
Rigoletto and Tramata. 

It will be many years before we shall again find 
so prolific an operatic year as that of 1879, Mapleson's 
autumn season was in fact a still further extension of 
the already extended summer season, and the same 
successes were continued, and with greater emphasis 
on Marie Roze, who played Carmen in three out of 
the ii performances, appearing also five times as 
Mignon, and six as Aida, besides some single appear- 
ances. Although the chief success of the season was 
again Minnie Hauk's, the prominence given to 
Marie Roze cannot be ignored, even if she did happen 
to be Mapleson's daughter-in-law: the number and 
diversity of her roles alone testifies to her qualities as 
an artist and singer. That she was much publicised 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

by the Mapleson family is also certain. A reception 
for the Press was arranged in America for the benefit 
of the beautiful and amiable lady, who appeared 
resplendent in a glittering diamond tiara to which, 
it was said, the leading citizens had been prevailed 
upon to subscribe; the heroine of the occasion smiled 
and smiled, and even kept on smiling after the said 
piece of jewellery had been returned to the jeweller 
next morning. Events suggested that this and other 
exploits in publicity had their hoped-for effect. 

The return of lima di Murska one of the his- 
toric singers was another success for Mapleson, 
though this brilliant and erratic genius was no stranger 
in London, having created the greatest sensation by 
her triumphs which began there in 1865. Although di 
Murska was a coloratura with a full range of three 
octaves she was also an artist and musician, and was 
much admired by Santley in the role of Senta which 
she sang with him in The Flying Dutchman, which, 
however, was a sad flop. Whether the public were 
not then ready for even so mild a dose of Wagner, 
or whether Santley was less impressive in the part of 
the Dutchman than he imagined is a matter for specu- 
lation. It is difficult to imagine him in the role, 
although -nothing like that would have deterred him 
when he thought otherwise. 

Di Murska had all the attributes of genius, in- 
cluding a waywardness of temperament and a taste 
for unconventional diversions and pets; but when on 
the stage she was reliable and in fact infallible. The 
same story is told in various detail but in substantial 
agreement by Klein, Arditi, Mapleson and Mathilde 
Marches! her teacher. 

In this season, curiously, she sang a number of her 


The Old Order 

roles only once each, an arrangement which may 
confidently be ascribed to her own wishes. As the 
Queen in the Flauto Magico she was, as Klein em- 
phatically declared, heard at her very best, easily 
and with the greatest enjoyment reaching to the F 
in alt, and imparting to her arias the dramatic sense 
which is generally left to the listener's imagination. 
She also sang once in Dinorah, in which she was quite 
extraordinary, in Sonnambula, Rigoletto and Les Hugue- 
nots; and twice in Lucia and Robert. Li Galsi conducted, 
assisted by John Hill. 


As this survey is so largely concerned with the 
personalities of its period, it is fitting that we should 
give very particular attention to the entries of two 
such distinguished artists as Marcella Sembrich and 
Edouard de Reszke names which for some of us 
signify a nearer approach to our own times than that 
associated with the more shadowy figures of the 
remote 'seventies, although Patti, Albani and Maurel, 
exceptionally, are relatively familiar, by reason of 
their long survivals. From now on we shall begin to 
observe the successive entrances of artists who live 
more vividly in our minds and imaginations, cul- 
minating on a note of climax with the stage fully set, 
and with room only for the few late arrivals to star- 
dom who graced the opening years of the new 

Edouard de Reszke's debut was not made under 
impressive circumstances; in a minor role in Le Roi de 

The Age of Jean 

Lahore, which was Ernest Gye's unconventional 
choice for the opening night, he had little opportunity 
for displaying his powers. However, amends were 
made when he appeared as San Bris in Les Huguenots, 
in which he was immediately acclaimed as a truly 
great bass, for in this effective role his dignified 
bearing and fine singing brought him at once into 
comparison with Faure, with whom alone he was 
comparable. Later he appropriated the role of 
Marcello in the same work, which the London critic 
Bernard Shaw considered was a mistake, since San 
Bris "fitted him to a semitone". 

Marcella Sembrich, who with Nilsson, Patti, Melba 
and Eames occupied the highest place attainable in 
the hierarchy of lyrical singers, made her London 
debut in Lucia di Lammermoor, and so emphatic was 
her success and so great the sensation she caused that 
the newspapers gave almost as much prominence 
to her second appearance in the same character as to 
the first. The number of her appearances in the season 
did not exceed six, which may have been due to her 
o\vn engagements, although when we consider that 
in this season Patti sang on 1 9 nights, and Albani on no 
fewer than 23, we may conclude that a young singer 
was fortunate in getting so many. In the five succes- 
sive seasons in which Sembrich sang in London, only 
once did she essay the jealously guarded role of 
Violetta, although she did on occasion successfully 
challenge Patti on her most reserved territory. 

After an absence for a season, for what are often 
referred to as C( family reasons", Albani was provided 
with another new role in Le Pri aux Clercs, a novelty by 
Herold, who has been best or only known in England 
for the overture to his opera %ompa. Nothing much 


The Old Order 

came of this, however, nor did Patti fare better in a 
similar effort on her behalf with Estella, by Cohen. 

The snapping of another link with the past was the 
retirement of the baritone Graziani an event which 
must have been regretted on both sides of the curtain. 
His London debut was as Carlo in Ernani; and it was 
he who had created the role of Renato in Un Ballo in 
Maschera at the world premiere in 1861. Of the famous 
quartet of baritones with which this survey opened, 
Maurel and Cotogni still remain. 

Massenet's novelty Le Roi de Lahore was found to 
have exhausted its popularity, for no reason that can 
be very clearly suggested. Exactly why Massenet's 
operas do not seem able to take root on London soil is 
not easy to say, for they are generally pleasant, com- 
petent and musicianly. But although opera is an art 
form that knows no rules but its own, there is presum- 
ably a limit of aildfidality beyond which an English 
audience begins to feel uncomfortable. It would 
tolerate a reasonable degree of impropriety in opera 
(but not, at this time, in drama), but it never could 
endure sanctimoniousness, a lush sentiment to which 
Massenet was evidently attracted in his plots, and 
which he expressed with much facility in his music. 
He did, however, produce a work which bordered 
upon genius (although impregnated with sanctimon- 
iousness) in Le Jongleur de Notre Dame, which was 
produced at Covent Garden with the all-male cast 
for which it was written, and at the London Opera 
House (now the Stoll Theatre) in 1911-12 with a 
woman in the title-role, for which eccentricity we had 
to thank the masterful Hammerstein and the too- 
obliging Massenet. 

The coming of Edouard de Reszke did nothing to 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

eclipse the favour shown to Pierre Gailhard, a French 
bass from the Paris Opera who had made his London 
debut in the previous season, and is to be accepted 
as one of the few really great basses. In later years 
and on his retirement as a singer he became the 
manager of the Paris Opera. 

Of Mme Patti in 1880 it may be edifying to quote 
the following passage from the Daily Telegraph, 
as an indication of the regard in which the famous 
diva was held by her contemporaries, as well as a 
literary achievement in applied superlatives : 

"It is not necessary to say much of Mme 
Patti's performance in the Traviata, as we have 
before had the pleasure of remarking that the 
great singer is at her very best this year. Never 
before have her middle and lower tones possessed 
such richness and beauty, and as an executant of 
intricate passages she continues to prove how 
immeasurably far she is beyond all her contem- 
poraries, making light of difficulties which few 
of the best of prima donnas would venture to 
attempt. The consummate ease with which she 
gives these elaborate but invariably tasteful 
embellishments constitutes their principal 
charm. . . ." 

The critics of those times had more than ample 
space at their disposal, and it was no uncommon 
thing for two full columns of the leading newspapers, 
which were considerably larger productions than we 
have at present, to be used to describe an important 
new opera, or, on occasion, a new singer (e.g. Mme 
Sembrich). It is also true, however, that it was some- 
times difficult, without diligent application, to be 
sure what the article was primarily intended to deal 


The Old Order 

with, for much philosophy and literary erudition was 
expended on the most tenuous of side issues, which 
may, of course, have covered up an excusable mental 
exhaustion after an evening that the writer may have 
found unrewarding. But a specimen of a model 
notice will be found at the place where the later 
production ofL'Amicio Fritz is noticed. 

By his production of Boito's Mefistofele Mapleson 
easily secured the prize of the year, for it was on a 
magnificent scale and performed to perfection. It is a 
somewhat unusual work, and is not generally treated 
with much respect by serious musicians. But it is 
not by any means contemptible, for not only is there 
a courageous attempt to include scenes from the second 
part of Goethe's Faust, but this portion is the most 
successful. The character of Mephistopheles far more 
nearly approximates to Goethe's fiend than does 
Gounod's, and the better parts of the score are ex- 
cellent indeed. What its history would have been had 
there been no Faust by Gounod is an interesting 
question, and one feels that the erratic genius of its 
writer and composer, who, like Berlioz, was compar- 
able with no one, only just missed producing a mighty 

On its London premiere Mefistofele received a cordial 
enough welcome, due notice being taken of its oddly 
unconventional form, and to some extent of its uneven 
musicianship. Much admiration was expressed for 
the striking prologue (in point of fact more striking 
visually than musically), and for the truly exquisite 
quartet in the garden. It was said of the prison scene 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

that its beauties would have made the fortune of any 
opera, and the dream-like beauty of the Penaeus 
shore, where Faust meets the Trojan Helen, and 
Nilsson and Trebelli sang the lovely duet Luna 
immobile with inevitable success, received full recogni- 
tion. Nilsson in the two roles of Margherita and 
Helena even added, if that were possible, to her great 
reputation for unexpected psychological readings of 
her characters, and the new bass Nanetti fully con- 
firmed the good reports that had preceded him. 
Campanini was the Faust, and the opera had seven 

The season was a difficult one for Mapleson, as, 
among other things such as a late opening, he lost the 
services of Costa, his musical director, as well as of 
some important members of his orchestra; nor were 
things improved by an ill-considered production of 
Verdi's La Forza del Destino, with Mrs Swift matching 
her name in her first and last appearance. We cannot, 
however, blame this hapless singer for the complete 
failure of this truly dire work, which not even a re- 
writing by its composer could turn into a success, 
despite its few excellent oases. But as a counterblast 
to the loss of Sir Michael Costa, Mapleson was clever 
in engaging Hans Richter to take charge of the four 
Lohengrin performances, which were acknowledged to 
have been greatly improved thereby. 

Another failure, although this was merely a matter 
of timing, was the premature appearance of Emma 
Nevada, who was later to become a soprano leggiero of 
the top rank. Mile Nevada was a very youthfol pupil 
of Marches!, and this was her absolute debut, which 
was made in the proper manner as Amina in the 
Sonnambtila. How so wise a teacher came to sanction so 


The Old Order 

daring an exploit (if she did sanction it) is a matter of 
guesswork, and, although not unkindly handled by 
the critics. Miss Nevada was well-advised by her 
friends to resume her studies. Both Mapleson and 
Arditi in their memoirs give special prominence to the 
success in a later year of the singer's appearances on an 
American tour; and indeed so great was her fame that 
her image may today be seen carved on the memorial 
to Bellini at the composer's birthplace at Catania in 
Sicily, together with those of Malibran and Pasta, in a 
representation of the three greatest interpreters of the 
role of Amina. At the Centenary celebrations in 1935 
Mme Nevada, the only survivor of the three, received 
an invitation to the unveiling from the Italian Govern- 
ment, at whose hands she was accorded almost royal 

The tenor, Joseph Maas, who had sung with the 
Carl Rosa Company and in concert and oratorio 
with the highest honours, made four appearances in 
Faust, and would have been an ornament to opera 
for many years had not his career been cut short. 
TiiTIi Lehmann, also destined for the top honours of 
her profession, made her London debut in La Traviata, 
appearing also as Filina in Ambroise Thomas's 
Mignon; and Gerster appeared in the final perform- 
ance of U TalismanOy as well as in her usual repertoire. 

Yet another singer who is to figure largely in this 
record was the French tenor RaveUi, and the manner 
in which Mapleson secured him is so amusingly told 
by Arditi, confirming Mapleson's own account, that 
it will bear repetition. After relating how Maas had 
fallen ill a few hours before he should have appeared 
in Lucia, Arditi tells how somebody called at Maple- 
son's office to tell him that a tenor named Ravelli 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

was walking in the portico below hoping for an en- 
gagement. "Mapleson was downstairs in a trice 95 
(continues Arditi) "and having spotted the tenor, who 
was strolling about with a huge cigar in his mouth, he 
assumed an indifferent air and managed somehow to 
get into conversation with him. Both parties acted 
offhandedly with each other, as though each man 
were conferring a favour on the other by conversing 
with him. When Mapleson casually observed that he 
wanted a tenor for that night's performance, Ravelli 
replied by looking dubiously at his book of engage- 
ments, ajid saying that oddly enough he was free 
for that evening, and would 'not mind 5 singing in 
lieu of Maas. Thus Ravelli first trod the boards of 
Her Majesty's Theatre, and there was a standing 
joke ever afterwards that whenever Mapleson was in 
want of artists he would be sure to find as many as he 
required walking about under the portico." 

This engagement turned out to be a particularly 
happy one, for although Ravelli was the most temper- 
amental of tenors, in Mapleson's expert hands he 
gave long and faithful service and could be called 
upon for an unlimited amount of work in the many 
emergencies in which his embarrassed and harassed 
impresario increasingly found himself. 

We now approach the period when the old order 
was beginning to show signs of cracking in an un- 
mistakable manner, and a new race of entrepreneurs 
came forward with ambitions to repair the edifice, 
some of whom had certain qualifications and others 
very little. The first of them, Mr Armit, was modest 


The Old Order 

in his aims, presenting a season at Her Majesty's 
Theatre in the autumn at low prices, and per- 
formances which offered soundness rather than 
brilliance. Nearly all the names were either un- 
familiar or were remembered from long ago, except- 
ing those of Trebelli, Runcio and the bass Ordinas. 
Trebelli sang throughout the n performances of 
Carmen, besides five times in La Favorita, which she 
sang for the first time, together with her well-known 
roles in Marta, Rigoletto, Aida and Trovatore. The 
veteran tenor Vizzani seemed to be in fine form, and 
divided the principal roles with Runcio. Wallace's 
Montana was announced as being given for the first 
time in Italian, with recitatives by Tito Mattei, who 
was also the composer of the only novelty of the 
season, Mara de Gand. 




Slump and Revival 




IN the year 1881 the ruinous competition between 
the two houses came to a head, and brought the 
enterprises of both Gye and Mapleson to a point 
approaching exhaustion. We find the rival houses 
working in opposition for the last time. Public 
interest was on the wane, and the consequent re- 
trenchment resulted in some falling off in performance, 
especially in the orchestral section. 

It is probably useless to seek for causes of the 
public feeling; these things just happen, even in green 
times, and may be no more remarkable than the 
phenomenon of our own day when, with all dis- 
crimination thrown aside, hastily contrived opera is 
sometimes thrust hurriedly upon the stage to satisfy 
an apparently insatiable demand. In times when 
private subscription was the life blood of opera, it is 
obvious that die plant will wilt when this is with- 
drawn, and without it, it became out of any question 
for two opera houses to flourish simultaneously, and 
a definite change in the wind had to be awaited be- 
fore opera was again to resume its place as the play- 
thing of London Society under the inspired direc- 
tion of Augustus Harris at Govent Garden, but never 
again, until the fantastic competition by Hammer- 
stein in 1912, were there to be twin seasons in London 
under private enterprise. 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 


Gye's season at Govent Garden opened inauspi- 
ciously with two consecutive performances of Aida, 
when Josephine de Reszke made her only London 
appearances. It would be inappropriate to describe 
this occasion as a debut, because so unfavourably was 
she received that she applied for and was granted a 
release from her contract, on the score of illness, and 
returned to the Continent to resume there a career 
which was successful and secure. The reason for the 
failure remains obscure, since it is difficult to accept 
either the complaints of the critics who professed to 
find every possible shortcoming in her vocal method, 
or the suggested explanation of Clara Leiser, the 
biographer of Mile de Reszke's two brothers, which 
was that the London public were so well accustomed 
to Patti's interpretation of the role that they were not 
inclined to accept that of a stranger. 

Her brother Jean at this time was in London, and 
although he was giving great delight at the private 
gatherings of his musical cronies with his finished 
singing, he declared that he was not yet ready to re- 
appeax in public, being content to enjoy the successes 
of his brother and sister. 

Much greater success attended the London debut 
of Mierzwinsky, a Polish tenore robusto of considerable 
attainments and apparently endless vocal resources. 
He was an important figure in these declining days of 
the Italian opera, and sang with unflagging energy 
throughout four seasons. He was of exceptionally 

Slump and Revival 

fine physique, and well endowed by nature in all 
departments excepting in that of the head; having 
through his indiscretions lost his fine voice, he was 
compelled to seek employment in less lucrative 
spheres, it is said, as a commissionaire outside one of 
London's better known hotels. 

Mme Fiirsch-Madier, or Madi, a dramatic soprano, 
made her debut by "obliging the management" in 
the role of Valentina in the Huguenots in default of 
Josephine de Reszke. She at once found favour, and 
sang for ten years in London as a fully accredited 
member of the company. 

With Trebelli having crossed over to Covent 
Garden, the mezzos, with Guercia reinforcing Scalchi, 
became unusually strong, and they were soon to be- 
come yet stronger when, with the impending amal- 
gamation of the two houses completed, they were to 
be joined by Tremelli and Stahl the last-named an 
accomplished Marches! pupil. 

An event which turned out to be of academic 
rather than musical significance was the London 
premise of Rubinstein's H Demonio. This work had 
been anticipated with more than usual interest, per- 
haps because its distinguished composer was to be 
present to conduct the first performances, and perhaps 
because of the opportunity it gave of seeing yet another 
impersonation of Satan. The interest, however, 
failed to extend beyond the first night, when it was, 
apparently, quite considerable. Enormously long 
notices followed, in which it was clearly taken for 
granted that the opera had come to stay. The second 
night was a complete reversal of the reception given 
to the first, and the audience remained cool to the 
point of actual boredom. Somehow, four perform- 

F [81] 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

ances were got through, and that was the end. To 
audiences which had been pleasurably excited by 
Gounod's amiable Spirit of Evil, and still more stimu- 
lated by the more Miltonian creation of Boito, this 
pusillanimous and deplorable fiend was found to be 
quite intolerable and altogether boring, notwith- 
standing Lassalle's presence and power. What did 
emerge to the evening's credit was a wonderful 
performance by Albani of the harassed heroine 
a character built up from a happy and carefree open- 
ing through a succession of tribulations and temptations 
to a climax of stark tragedy. It is when Mme Albani 
can use an opportunity such as this, said a critic, that 
she can show herself a genuine tragedian, while the 
music put no obstacles in the way of her glorious 
singing. With Albani and Lassalle were Marini and 
Edouard de Reszke. 

During the period of which we axe writing, Maple- 
son was filling in the time between the London 
seasons with extensive tours in the U.S.A., in which 
he probably recouped himself for his losses elsewhere, 
and was thus enabled to continue his hobby. Cer- 
tainly his fortunes in London were in a definite de- 
cline, although he, like Gye, was offering programmes 
of real merit and attraction. In fact so popular was 
Christine Nilsson's Margherita in Faust that it was 
twice repeated "by special desire" after her 
"last appearance in this part" had already been 

Mefistqfeh was repeated, with Tremelli replacing 
Trebelli as Pamtalis. The excellent Nanetti had 


Slump and Revival 

small opportunity outside this work, but in one per- 
formance in Faust and one as the King in Lohengrin 
he again showed his quality. 

The departure of Christine Nilsson from the scene 
of her triumphs may well have been received with 
mixed feelings by her impresario, if with unmixed 
regret by the public, whom she had delighted for 
14 years. Of the great prestige which she carried 
with her there was no question, for she was at all times 
a powerful figure both in London Society and in 
musical circles. She was a lady of strong and unusual 
intuitions, which, consciously or unconsciously, she 
exercised on others sometimes, we are told, with 
chilling effect; and, like most prima donnas at the 
peak of their careers, she took strong measures to 
safeguard her position. It is doubtful whether there 
was ever another like her. 

Emma Juch was a successful debutant, sharing with 
Lehmann the roles of Violetta and Filina, and with 
di Murska the Queen of Night. Mme Gabbi rather 
spoilt her debut in Aida through excessive nervousness, 
though on the whole she justified her appearance, as 
later in the Trovatore. Neither were again heard in 
London, although Mile Juch achieved success in 
America when a more matured artist. 

Mr Samuel Hayes, another new impresario, put on 
an autumn season at the Lyceum, with a company of 
much the same quality and some of the same 
principals as Mr Armit had engaged for the 
previous year. The ageing Vizzani shared the youthful 
tenor roles with Frapolli. Although we have bidden 

The Age of Jean de R&szke 

farewell to Mme Marimon as a singer in the major 
seasons, Mr Hayes acted wisely in persuading her to 
return as his leading singer in fact as his star 
with Padilla, a Spanish baritone, who alone among the 
strangers made good with London audiences, and 
secured further engagements. Marimon sang four 
times in La Figlia del Reggimento, twice in Dinorah, 
three times in Sonnambula, once in Don Pasquale, twice 
in the Barbiere, and once in the six performances of 


Herr Angdo Neumann's season at Her Majesty's 
Theatre was an historic event, for it was the London 
premise ofDer Ring des Nibelungen, by Richard Wagner. 
Neumann had been invested by Wagner himself with 
the sole rights of producing the Ring in England for the 
first time, and brought with him a company of im- 
portant singers for the leading roles, and many others 
who sang two or more roles in the course of the season. 
Among the leading singers we find such famous names 
as Scaria, Vogl, Rdcher-Kindermann, Niemann and 
Reichmann. Scaria, who had been singing incessantly 
for 22 years he was then 42 has been considered by 
opera historians as the greatest Wotan of all time, and 
Reichmann, who alternated with him, was hardly less 
impressive. It seems remarkable but true that all 
later stagings of the Ring have had to strive to live up 
to the excellence of the performance under Wagner's 
own direction. Much the same applies to the other 
works of his maturity. The reason for this may well 


Slump and Revival 

be the homogeneous character of the companies 
a happy circumstance which naturally enough was 
confined to Germany and centred in Bayreuth. They 
established and passed on a tradition which became 
fixed and immutable for a generation, being accepted 
as almost a religious rite by first-rate artists outside 
Germany, after which it became freer and more in- 
dependent as the germ of the tradition ripened or 
disintegrated, as the case may be. 

The first performance of Der Ring des Nibelungen in 
London took place on May 5, 6, 8 and 9 in German, 
and the illustrious Anton Seidl conducted the orchestra 
of the Richard Wagner Theatre. There were four 
cycles, and for the first there was plenty of enthusiasm, 
after which public curiosity seems to have been satis- 
fied or perhaps the new idiom was found too heavy. 
In the fierce contentions which split the musical 
world, the Wagnerian set was small, and it was to be 
another ten years before the Ring was again to be 
heard in London in its entirety. 

Owing to some highly injudicious planning, 
another Wagnerian venture, under Francke-Pollini, 
also claiming to have been fortified by Wagner's 
personal blessing, and with Richter as musical director, 
invited the attention of London opera-goers at Drury 
Lane, in competition with the Neumann season. 
True, this was not offering the Ring, but it increased 
the calls on the time and the purses of the public, 
the combined effect of which was to diminish the 
already straitened prospects of the Italian opera at 
Covent Garden, which was now struggling for its 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

existence. . This second enterprise opened at the same 
date as the beginning of the third cycle of the Ring at 
Her Majesty's, and this large overdose of the c new 
music 3 , as it was called, naturally lost much money 
for its backers. 

Artistically and histrionically, however, this season 
was no less important than the London premiere of 
the Ring, for the works hitherto known to Londoners 
only in their Italianate form were now heard in the 
Teutonic idiom which, although at first difficult to 
assimilate, eventually became accepted. 

The outstanding features of the season were the 
London premieres of Die Meistersinger and Tristan und 
Isolde. Of these the first was on May 30, with the 
historic cast of Sucher as Eva, Winklemann as Walter 
and Gura as Sachs. The performance was without 
fault, and so popular was the event that, after the 
three advertised performances, a fourth was sub- 
stituted for Weber's Ewyanthe, which was postponed. 
Malten another historic name in the birth of the 
Wagner tradition also sang Eva; and Nachbauer, 
the original Walter von Stolzing in 1868, took over 
from Winklemann. In all, ten performances were 
given in response to popular demand. 

In Tristan, which was given on June 20, Sucher and 
Winklemann were the lovers, Krauss the Kurvenal, 
and Marianne Brandt the Brangane, with Gura as the 
King. This was considered a wonderful performance, 
and Sucher's most fervent admirers were enraptured 
by her achievement. Equally fine and well-matched 
was the Tristan, who was able to combine a robust 
and lyrical tone to the satisfaction of the most critical. 
The rest also were first-rate, and nothing occurred to 
call forth the slightest adverse judgment. And yet, 


Slump and Revival 

despite this superb achievement, two performances to 
half-empty houses sufficed to satisfy the immediate 
requirements of Londoners let us not forget that 
they crowded the house for ten performances of Die 

The remainder of this highly important season was 
made up of Lohengrin, Tannhauser, The Flying Dutch- 
man, Euryanthe and Fidelio, in which Malten and 
Brandt appeared successively as Leonora. 

The Wagnerian form, as developed in spite of 
Wagner, must be regarded as a law to itself an 
oasis or desert in the great musical vista; and the 
decline of Wagnerian singing from the more or less 
Italian form hitherto heard in London to the stage of 
very efficient loud-speaking, may be particularly 
suitable to Wagner, but certainly not to other 

With both the old opera regimes now defunct 
from inanition, the fortunes of Grand Opera were 
vested in a limited liability company with the brothers 
Gye as London managers, and Mapleson in charge 
of its interests in the United States. In spite of an 
imposing array of operas, which were doubtless in 
sad need of re-dressing, and a team of singers equal to 
the best^ there was again a decided lack of public 
support, to which the German invasion contributed to 
an emphatic degree. With Faust and Aida totalling 
ten performances, and Carmen, even with the added 
attraction of Pauline Lucca, failing to exceed the 
meagre three each of Lucia, Barbiere, Mignon, and 
MefistofeUy and with 33 nights only being required 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

to stage a further 18 major works, we may conclude 
that Italian opera in London was in a very poor way. 

Pauline Lucca was making a reappearance after an 
absence often years, and was one of the Great Women 
Singers of Klein's once well-known book. She was 
noted for her vivid and wayward interpretations 
which were in line with her own temperament, and 
which, although delighting the public, frequently 
brought her into collision with the critics. The im- 
mortal Ghorley a well-known critic of the time 
had described her Margherita for all time as c too 
knowing* a delicious phrase. Although this wilful, 
touchy and altogether fascinating lady again got to 
loggerheads with the gentlemen of the pen, she re- 
ceived a public ovation on her return which, as we 
say nowadays, showed what the score was in a de- 
cisive manner. Emma Albani, whose opinion we may 
accept, wrote of Mme Lucca, "She was great in the 
Africaine, and she was great also in the absolute 
comedy part of Zerlina in Fra Diavolo. Her Gherubino, 
I consider, has never been approached." We should 
remember Lucca as an outstanding figure, and not 
merely as another well-trained actress and singer. 

The progress of Mme Fiirsch-Madi was most 
marked: here we find her singing Valentina, Aida, 
Leonora of the Trovatore and Donna Anna all 
testing roles. With Sembrich, Patti, Valleria, Lucca 
and Albani, it is difficult for us to see what the public 
had to grumble about. As to the men, although the 
attacks on poor Nicolini had risen to a point on the 
edge of libel, those amateurs of singing who remember- 
ed him at this time could only surmise other causes ; he 
had not yet married Patti, and possibly the critics 
thought it was time he did, although her divorce from 


Slump and Revival 

her first husband was not until 1885. Maurel was 
absent, but Gotogni remained of the famous four, 
with Edouard de Reszke and Gailhard strong among 
the basses. 

Mile Stahl's London debut as Amneris was en- 
tirely successful, and we may remark the first appear- 
ance in London of M. Bouhy, who was the Escamillo 
of the world premiere of Carmen, though his debut here 
was as Mephisto. Dufriche, whose association with the 
Opera House extended well into the twentieth cen- 
tury, made a first appearance in London in Rondo et 

Mme Valleria, who had received the warmest 
appreciation since her debut in 1873, made her last 
appearance at the Royal Italian Opera, and joined 
the Carl Rosa Company, which was then, as now, 
giving opera in English, and was in its heyday; in fact 
it became a sort of tactical reserve for Covent Garden 
when Augustus Harris took charge of both. Both 
Mapleson and Arditi wrote with enthusiasm of this 
charming soprano, actually comparing her in certain 
roles with Christine Nilsson. Her name was billed for 
the season of 1888, but she made no appearance, except 
in the Carl Rosa Company in i{ 

For the first year in our story, we find only one 
opera season at Govent Garden. The honours were 
carried off by Pauline Lucca, who made 13 appear- 
ances. This provocative lady seems to have had a way 
of exacerbating the critics rather than appeasing 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

them; although they could not withhold their praise, 
it was too often tempered with an exasperation and 
asperity which went rather far. So piquant was every 
circumstance connected with her that we wish we 
might hear the full story of her sallies and encounters. 
She was actually held to blame because she delivered 
Voi che sapete in the form of an aria, which it certainly is, 
instead of as dialogue, which it certainly is not; be- 
cause she followed the classical tradition of exercising 
her right of choice in introducing a high note to 
finish the aria; for faulty phrasing here, and for 
defects in production there, she was pursued by such 
evident malevolence in certain quarters, that one 
suspects some sequence of cause and effect uncon- 
nected with music. 

The London debut of Mattia Battistini was of a 
tentative nature, for his glorious baritone voice and 
outstanding stage presence did not then gain recog- 
nition to anything like the degree that his future 
greatness would have led one to expect. Perhaps the 
time was not propitious for new appearances, although 
Battistini had every opportunity of showing his 
mettle in the three performances of Trovatore, in 
which he surely excelled, as in Traviata, if less so in 
Lohengrin, which now was sung by Albani, Fiirsch- 
Madi, Maas and de Reszke, with Battistini and 
Cotogni in turn. 

The big event of the season was the London pre- 
miere of Ponchielli's La Gioconda, for which the critics 
enthusiastically prophesied a lasting success. (They 
had done the same thing for Mefistofele and // Demonio.) 
The work introduced to London Mme Durand, who 
had already made a name for herself as the heroine. 
It also introduced Francesco Marconi, who was the 


Slump and Revival 

creator of the tenor role ; his debut was brilliant, as was 
all the work he did in London. Marconi in fact took 
over the roles usually associated with Gayarre, during 
the Spanish tenor's temporary absence, and stepped 
straight into the front rank. The opera gives ample 
opportunity to an important cast, which on this 
occasion also included Tremelli, Stahl, Cotogni and 
Edouard de Reszke. The beautiful and testing aria 
Cielo e Mar has been recorded by Marconi himself, and 
serves to prove the extremely high standard of singing 
claimed for those times times which may well have 
been a Golden Age of singing, but were certainly not 
a golden age for managements. 

The French baritone Devoyod, who was the 
Valentine at the world premiere of Faust, made a distin- 
guished London debut in the role, and also sang in 
Rigoktto, UAfricaine, Aida, and in the tide role of The 
Flying Dutchman, in which he was joined by Albani, 
Ravelli, and Edouard de Reszke. The baritone del 
Puente now joins the Govent Garden management as 
part of the amalgamation. 

Patti scored a fresh success in the revival of Ros- 
sini's La Gazza Ladra, which drew the largest audience 
of the season, and gave Patti and Scalchi another 
opportunity for the display of their skill as duettists. 

Readers of Minnie Hauk's Memories of a Singer may 
be perplexed by the absence of any reference to her in 
this or in the following season, although the famous 
singer does specifically claim to have appeared in both. 
In point of fact she did not sing at the Opera between 
1 88 1 and 1887, although she did sing for the Carl 
Rosa Company. Her references to incidents with 
Mapleson at Her Majesty's in 1883 and 1884 axe the 
result of some confusion, for in the first of these years 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

there was no season at that theatre, and in the second 
there was only the ill-fated Hayes season, with which 
Minnie Hauk was happily not connected. 

In this last season of the Gye connection, the stan- 
dard of individual performances at Covent Garden 
continued to be high, but the subscriptions and 
attendances showed no improvement. The Royal 
Italian Opera Syndicate, which included Augustus 
Harris and Carl Rosa, worked hard enough, but the 
public refused to respond. The only novelty was 
Reyer's Sigurd, although why anybody supposed that 
this was in any way likely to succeed in London does 
not transpire. It seemed to contain no elements of 
success, and so it failed. 

The season, however, is of historical importance, as 
it marks the beginning of an entirely fresh policy. 
Bowing to the inevitable, the management sought the 
best of two worlds by introducing German operas, 
sung in German by German singers, interpolated with 
the Italian works. These German operas were put 
under the separate management of the impresario 
Francke, with Richter as conductor. 

This revolutionary change must be taken as some 
indication of the straits to which the Syndicate must 
have been reduced in their efforts to attract the public 
back. In this year of crisis the public were invited to 
choose between the old and the new schools, and they 
chose neither. It seems, however, that the German 
company were not by any means so well graced as 
that of the Francke-Pollini season two years earlier, 


Slump and Revival 

much of the singing being of the worst and most 
uncompromisingly German description. In their 
extremity the German section actually borrowed Mme 
Albani, who achieved a triumph by acquiring the 
German text of The Flying Dutchman for a single per- 
formance, and of Lohengrin for two, and was well 
berated by the Press for doing so. 

The baritone Scheidemantel was admired for 
singing in a true Italian manner. T^lli Lehmann, 
after singing the Venus in Tannhauser, rose to her 
true stature as Isolde, with Gudehus as Tristan. The 
advertised announcements of this event made the 
curious claim that it was the first performance of the 
opera Tristan wd Isolde in England, which showed an 
oddly short memory on somebody's part. But the 
time for Tristan had not arrived, and it was received 
with coolness by some, and with exasperated rage by 

The facade of Italian opera was still bright and 
brilliant, despite the relish with which some later 
commentators have mutilated it. Twenty popular 
operas, sung by the pick of the world's singers in a 
period of great singing, would be something for us to 
talk about in these days. We may reflect on whether our 
forefathers were just capricious, or quite simply 
surfeited with too good musical living; whether they 
deserved to have the opportunity of rejecting what we 
should so thankfully and fervently acclaim; and 
whether they were not unduly impatient or unappre- 
ciative of works, which in the bounteousness of their 
times were showered upon them. "We have piped 
unto you, and ye would not dance," was a thought 
which they might have considered with advantage. 

He * * * 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Whatever may have been the true facts about the 
state of opera at the close of the summer season of 1884, 
the time was singularly ill-chosen for a venture of the 
kind initiated by Mr Samuel Hayes, whose undistin- 
guished season in the autumn of 1881 could hardly 
have encouraged a second challenge to fortune. It 
seerns in the event to have been inspired by some sort 
of spirit of crusade, for it was prefaced by an announce- 
ment to the effect that it was intended as a counter- 
blast to the Wagnerian tendencies with which Mr 
Hayes and his backers evidently most profoundly 
disagreed. They presumed to maintain the pure 
principles of Italian opera, now threatened with 
extinction "for the exhibition of a Gothic and unvocal 
school". It would be unkind for us, over 70 years 
later, to condemn such altruism, but one cannot 
overlook the sheer shortsightedness of an attempt 
to offer old lamps, second-hand and badly shop- 
soiled, for new. The claims made were far greater 
than the meaas of carrying them out, and the in- 
evitable chaos that ensued gave rise to fresh outbursts 
of lamentation from the musical Jeremiahs. Included 
in the initial announcement was the name of Mile 
Arnoldson, who, mercifully for herself, did not appear 
in London until a more propitious occasion. Neither 
de Belocca nor Foli made their advertised appear- 
ances. Biro de Marion, Frapolli, Padilla, Castelmary, 
and the evergreen Vizzani, however, played their 
parts. The Rosina of the opening night was Laura 
Sgur, c from La Scala, 9 who was quickly identified as 
Laura Harris, who had had some success at Her 
Majest/s 22 years earlier. After two performances of 
the Barbiere, two of Don Giovanni, and one of// Trova- 
tore, notices were put out that the season must be 


Slump and Revival 

postponed; and that was the end of Mr Hayes, and 
might well have been the end of Italian opera in 
London, for the time being at any rate. 

This unfoitunate result was not due to any egre- 
gious faults of singing, since the Rosina of Miss Segur 
and the Figaro and Don Giovanni of Sig. Padilla 
received very high praise, and the rest of the singers 
were mostly experienced at their work. But it was a 
'cheap 5 season, and the mounting and costuming 
were deplorable, so the public stayed away. 

i88 5 

We are now in the midst of the opera slump of the 
'eighties, in which no one except the ever-hopeful 
Mapleson could see any daylight. Accordingly, he 
declared himself willing, and, hi a short and scrappy 
season, in which he staked all on the drawing power of 
Patti, he did the most that could have been done 
within the short space often days to organise a season 
of Grand Opera. Performances were given twice 
weekly only, and with 'extra nights'. Arditi was the 

The season marked the 25th anniversary of Patti's 
debut at Covent Garden, and this was the occasion 
on which she elected to appear as Carmen. She 
was then 42, but retained the figure of a girl, and, 
as Klein wrote, age never had any meaning for her. 
Mapleson had been acting as her manager in America, 
and the two were always firm friends, which makes it 
more than possible that the suggestion to try the role 
of Carmen came originally from him. He doubtless 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

hoped that both would profit by it. Already it was 
recognised that Carmen could be presented either as 
the wild gipsy girl or as the skittish young lady, and 
Patti, who was nothing if not the lady, simply did not 
possess the means of turning herself into something 
thoroughly common. Her friends regretted the 
adventure, and so did she. It was never repeated 
after its two performances, in which Engel and del 
Puente joined. 

Patti also sang once each in Traviata, Semiramide, 
Maria, Linda and Trovatore, and twice in Faust. The 
house was always crowded for her appearances. This 
was the last of her regular operatic seasons in London 
until, in 1895, s h- e yielded to Augustus Harris's most 
lucrative offer of a contract to grace that notable 

Mmes Frohstrome and Dotd, both light sopranos, 
made their London debuts, the former being most 
successful in the coloratura roles, sometimes replacing 
Patti in the operas of her repertoire. The tenor 
Giannini and the baritone de Anna also made debuts ; 
both sang with distinction in later seasons. At the 
close of the season there occurred one of those episodes 
in which prima donnas sometimes indulged. Maple- 
son's hand can be reliably traced in it. Patti's carriage 
was drawn in a triumphal torchlight procession 
not, as one might suppose, by her enthusiastic ad- 
mirers, but by a gang of youthful students, who prob- 
ably very much enjoyed the fun, and any beer that 
went with it. 

Mention may be made of a season of French plays 


Slump and Revival 

alternating with operas at the Gaiety Theatre in 1885 
under the management of M. Mayer. The operas 
consisted of a first performance in England of Delibes's 
Ldkmi in which Mile van Zandt, whom we remember 
at Her Majesty's some few years earlier, and who was 
exactly fitted for the part, played the lead as well as 
the role of Mignon in Thomas's work. 

Although not generally recognised as such, this 
season deserves to rank as the prologue to the opera 
renaissance for which Augustus Harris has been 
given the credit. Signor Lago had for several years 
been rtgisseur and general factotum to Frederick Gye 
and his successors, and now appears as impresario 
probably backed or controlled by Gayaxr6. Despite 
many causes for discouragement, he had a complete 
knowledge of his craft, and in this and later seasons he 
was to introduce singers who became world-famous as 
a result of his knowledge and enterprise. Harris was 
something in the nature of a City colossus, and, as he 
also had a taste for the hobby of producing opera, 
he is frequently found swooping down and bagging 
Lago's prizes reaping, in fact, where Lago had 
sown. Since opera must always follow the money- 
bags, Lago was at a disadvantage from the beginning. 
Nor were things made any easier for him by a consis- 
tently hostile Press, which seemed to resent the intrusion 
of a mere employee into the ranks of the impresarios. 
Notwithstanding these handicaps, Lago made a 
financial success of his first season, even without the 

o [97] 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

magic presence of Patti. This in itself suggests a 
definite improvement in the presentation of opera in 

The first of many really important new singers to 
be introduced by Lago were Ella Russell, Mme 
Valda, and the famous baritone d'Andrade, all of 
whom became useful to Harris later. Also Mme 
Teodorini, who probably deserved better handling 
than she received; for a dramatic soprano who carried 
off the roles of Valentina and Gioconda to have been 
cast for Mozart's Zerlina was certainly asking rather 

Lago, at any rate, was well liked by the singers, who 
rallied to him; Maurel and Gayarr6 returned to Lon- 
don to serve under him, and Albani, Gepeda, Scalchi, 
Marini, Runcio and Pandolfini gave him a very 
powerfiil company. Gayarr^'s health, however, was 
becoming uncertain, and he was to have only one more 
London season. Some publicity was given to an 
announcement that Harold's opera Zjampa would be 
given this season, with Emma Calv and Maurel in 
the leading roles, but nothing came of this. It was to 
be another six years before the famous Emma's 
exuberant person was to carry all before her in 
London, and to create a tradition as Carmen which 
endures to this day. 

The season followed the conventional lines, and 
ended on the peak of a crescendo of success. It was 
apparent that Lago stood in no need of Press assis- 
tance. This result invites the speculation whether the 
excellent Lago, if left to himself by the opportunist 
Harris, might have gained the credit for the upward 
surge of opera initiated by him, which took on a 
separate existence in the following year at Drury 


Slump and Revival 

Lane. That Harris was keeping a very close eye on 
Lago's activities need not be doubted, and is evident 
from what followed. While we shall be joining lustily 
in the paeans of praise which opera commentators 
have given to Harris, we may spare a regret, while 
there is still time, for the small satisfaction which 
Lago may have felt at seeing his success snatched from 
him by the ruthless City alderman. However, we 
have not finished with this interesting personality, 
and we shall see again how he provided material for a 
more powerful if less artistic rival. 

While these events were happening, Mapleson had 
suffered a very severe reverse in a tour of the U.S.A., 
during which he had endured every vicissitude which 
the illnesses and private feuds of artists could have 
inflicted upon him. The tenor Ravelli, who was hard- 
working and faithful so long as he was not provoked, 
was in fact provoked only too easily sometimes 
with cause and often without. The whole tour was 
embittered by a frantic and recurring quarrel between 
Ravelli and Minnie Hauk, which culminated in 
something very near to a free fight during an act of 

On his return to England, Mapleson was given a 
benefit at Drury Lane, which was, we are told, under 
the immediate patronage of the Queen and H.R.H. 
the Prince of Wales. H JBarbiere was played with Patti, 
Nicolini, del Puente, Monari-Rocca and Foli, and a 
very large sum of money was taken. Mapleson tells 
of these ups and downs in his memoirs (omitting the 
benefit), in a detached and slightly humorous way, 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

and although he came back 'broke', we feel that he 
had really rather enjoyed it all. 

Encouraged by his minor success at the Gaiety, 
M. Mayer made history at Her Majesty's by staging 
Faust and Carmen in their native language some- 
thing that had never been done in London before. 
For Carmen, he brought over the creator of the role in 
its first production in Paris eleven years earlier, Mme 
Galli-Mari6. This lady's personal success was abso- 
lute, and her acting and singing were extolled to the 
skies by Press and public. Hers was the untamed 
gipsy type of Carmen, with a finish of style and charm 
of manner which there was no resisting, so perfectly 
was nature blended with art. Duch&sne, the tenor, 
pleased some and displeased others, but those whom 
he pleased carry the greater conviction, which makes 
him one of the best Don Jos & to have been heard up 
to date. M. Devries, who was known at Govent 
Garden, was the French Escamillo. 

In Faust Mme Fid&s-Devries sang Marguerite, and 
Vergnet, who had made a most successful debut at 
Govent Garden in 1881, was the Faust, Devries the 
Valentin and Dauphin the Mephisto. In neither 
opera was the chorus found to be acceptable, but 
both then and for some years afterwards, this 
unfortunate body were considered fair game for 
critics. There was a classic example of this, when the 
gala performance which had been arranged for the 
coronation of Edward VII was postponed almost at 
the last moment, on account of the King's critical 
illness. But a magazine of the day, The Ladies' Realm, 


Slump and Revival 

printed a long and detailed account, which was read 
with incredulous delight by its subscribers, of this 
performance which never took place, and of the 
brilliant audience which never assembled. The 
chorus, said the staff critic, was the worst they had 
ever heard. 

Mention must be made of a distressing 'season' 
promoted by M. Carillon at Her Majesty's in March 
1886. A number of 'eminent' singers were promised, 
who were, however, either not entitled to this descrip- 
tion, or past the age when it was still statable. Signor 
Vizzani, who had been dropped from the major 
companies after 1871, but who always seemed ready 
to do his best for smaller ones, and Mme Sinico, a 
long retired soprano of the dramatic type, were the 
only recognisable names the rest were either minor 
strangers or complete novices. The climax and finale 
was reached when Faust was announced, and was 
started in the presence of a small audience. It is 
correct to say that it started, but it never finished. It 
proceeded, between long intervals, until the garden 
scene was due to open, when the interval seemed 
endless and the audience grew boisterous. 

The trouble, it was explained, was that the chorus 
were threatening to walk out unless they received 
their money in advance. Evidently it had leaked out 
that there was not sufficient cash in the box office till 
to ensure satisfaction to all. 'Noises off 3 found a 
ready response in the audience; they were inclined to 
sympathise with the unfortunate stranded Italians, 
who eventually took matters into their own hands, 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

and pushing their way to the front of the curtain, 
loudly begged for alms, in pathetic attitudes of 
appeal. Coins were thrown on to the stage, and were 
avidly gathered up. Waving their thanks, the poor 
supers withdrew, only to find that the manager had 
fled. The audience then vented their feelings by 
tearing up and destroying everything breakable or 
tearable, leaving the theatre as though a typhoon had 
passed through it. There was much righteous indig- 
nation in the Press next day, and solemn sermons 
were preached on the iniquity of allowing speculating 
managements to use London theatres for their 
operations. The only people to find any advantage 
in the night's proceedings may be presumed to have 
been those who gained control of the till, and the 
reporters who covered the event. 


The Queen's Jubilee year of 1887 saw the last of 
what we may call the old order of opera, and cleared 
the field for the new. Doubtless well informed of 
projected developments, Mapleson was the first to 
enter the lists at Govent Garden in a year of almost 
unexampled operatic activity, having brought back 
with him as the only good result of his recent American 
tour the gracious and accomplished Lillian Nordica, 
in whom he had perceived the elements of her future 
greatness. The debut of M. Lh6rie was another 
interesting event, for, although then a baritone, he 
had, as a tenor, created the role of Don Jos6 in Paris; 
except for Marie Engle, no other newcomer need be 


Slump and Revival 

singled out. Emma Nevada returned to retrieve 
herself, after her premature appearance in 1880. 

The season's novelty was Bizet's Pescatori di Perle, 
produced under the tide of Leila, but it met with only 
moderate success, which is what generally happens 
when this rather milk-and-water piece is played in 
England. It contains some pleasant pages, and a 
soprano scene of the first class, but it can never hope 
to challenge the major works in the Italian-French 

Many of Mapleson's tried and reliable singers 
ensured a high standard for the season, for Minnie 
Hauk and Ravelli had forgotten their differences, and 
Trebelli, del Puente and Padilla now a popular 
favourite formed a solid nucleus. Minnie Hauk, as 
usual, carried off the honours with seven performances 
of Carmen, with Nordica singing unchanged in Faust, 
which was given five times. 

The return of Emma Nevada introduced a finished 
pupil of the Marches! of the Vienna days. In the 
Sonnambula, in which she reappeared, she proved her 
claim to be a high-ranking coloratura, singing the 
scale passages with neatness and precision, with a 
voice of light but sweet and carrying quality. Especi- 
ally effective and affecting was her Ah non credea; her 
petite and appealing figure entirely conquered the 

She sang also in two performances of Gounod's 
Mirdlle which was put on for her benefit, being a 
work in which her delicate talents especially shone. 
She was roundly chastised by the critics for introducing 
the air from David's La Perle de Brfsil, which was her 
favourite solo, and executed always with great grace. 

Later her Rosina in the Barbien met with quite 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

astonishing success, as we shall see, and she received 
the highest praises of her impresario Mapleson, who 
regarded her as a rival to Patti on the American 
tours, and of her musical director Arditi. 

At the reduced prices charged for this season, 
Mapleson made a handsome profit from the large 

Hardly had Mapleson's season closed before Lago 
re-opened the Opera House for a further season 
under his own management, which was to show many 
interesting events. He introduced a Russian soprano, 
Medea Mey, a court singer to the Czar, as well as 
her husband, N. N. Figner. Mme Mey, later known 
as Mey-Figner, did not stay long in London, but her 
voice had the greatest beauty, midway between a 
light dramatic and a strong leggiero> which offered an 
almost unlimited choice of subject. At this early date 
it is hardly possible to write with the same certainty as 
when, some 13 years later, she made a series of records 
which are among the collector's most cherished 
prizes, both for their absolute rarity today and for 
their extreme beauty of voice and style. Her husband 
stayed on throughout the season, and, as Court 
singer at St Petersburg, he was honoured by an 
invitation to sing at a -State Concert at Buckingham 
Palace. His voice was a light tenor, flexible and white, 
and lacking in the warmth more generally appreciated 
in London. 

Pr6vost, another stranger to London, has received 
the highest praise from Mapleson and Arditi for his 
extraordinary powers, and it was doubtless with this 


Slump and Revival 

ringing voice at his command that Lago decided on the 
production of Guillaume Tell, in which his top notes 
were heard to much advantage. 

Gayarr^'s career in London closed with this season. 
He had long been ailing, and his death occurred in his 
native Spain two years later, due in part, so it was 
said, to die ungenerous conduct of an audience of his 
own countrymen. They booed and hissed this great 
singer, who had appeared while in a state of health 
quite unfit for him to do so. Perhaps the pomp and 
ceremony of the public funeral which the authorities 
ordained for his memory also reproached those who 
had so ill-used him. 

Such conduct as the hissing of an old and revered 
favourite would be incomprehensible to northern 
audiences, who (especially those of England) feel a 
natural and traditional sense of loyalty to singers to 
whom they have once given their affection. The 
writer recalls being told by an elderly friend of his 
own youth who, when himself a young man, heard 
Mario in his last days, how the audience applauded 
wildly; the young man remarked to his neighbour 
that, if that were the great Mario, he didn't think 
much of him. "Ah," said the neighbour, "but you 
didn't hear him when he could sing !" 

Medea Mey sang in each of two performances of 
La Favorita, once with Gayarre and once with her 
husband, who also sang in Rigoletto, Linda, Ernani and 
the Sonnambula; and Ella Russell and d'Andrade 
confirmed the good opinions of the previous season. 
Other notable singers were Albani, Cotogni, Cepeda, 
Scalchi and Devoyod- 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

It is necessary to keep track of the chronology of 
these seasons of 1887, so closely did they follow or 
overlap. With Lago's season barely a fortnight old, 
the gallant Mapleson used his winnings to put Her 
Majesty's into repair after the debacle that happened 
there in the previous year. The house had been prac- 
tically gutted by the infuriated audience, the pre- 
vailing nationality of which is not recorded. It seems 
that Mapleson had been touring extensively, giving 
concerts and operas with a large and important 
company which he wished to keep in being, so it was a 
case of Her Majesty's or nothing. 

At the outset he was in difficulties with his orchestra, 
or rather the lack of one, for with two other opera 
seasons in progress or prospect, besides the Philhar- 
monic, Richter and other concerts, musicians were 
naturally at a premium, and they could not be in- 
duced to attend rehearsals. After no more than five 
nights, Mapleson was compelled to close the house, 
re-opening a fortnight later with a new orchestra 
which he had conjured up from somewhere, and with 
Lilli Lehmann singing superbly in Fidelio to nearly 
empty benches. But, as usual, Patti was played as a 
trump card, at a fee stated by Mapleson to have been 
650 a night. She made a single appearance in the 
Traviata and then disappeared. Mapleson and Arditi 
deal somewhat differently with this episode, and 
Klein's account suggests some embarrassment in 
explaining it away; but Arditi's version sounds 
feasible. Patti, he says, was leased' to Mapleson by 
her American manager Abbey, and, when the stipu- 
lated fee was not forthcoming, Abbey put an embargo 
on further appearances. In the event, whatever 
slight credit Mapleson may have had before this 


Slump and Revival 

defection by Patti occurred, he was now entirely 
deprived of it, and the season ended in confusion and 
disaster, with both public and supernumeraries calling 
down maledictions on the unfortunate impresario's 
head. As Arditi said, "A great deal of trouble en- 
sued", and we may well believe it. 

However, Mapleson was not dead yet. 

For the record, the season consisted of Lucia with 
Broch, Caylus and de Anna; Faust with Frohstrome, 
Trebelli, Oxilia, de Anna and Abramoff; Carmen 
with Trebelli; Barbiere with Broch, Peschier, Monari- 
Rocca and Padilla; Fidelio with Lehmann, Kalisch 
and Caylus, de Anna and Novaxa; Mefistofele with 
Oselio, Trebelli, Oxilia and Abramoff; and Traviata 
with Patti, Kalisch and Padilla. 

Although we have at length reached that stage in 
our story at which Jean de Reszke comes into his 
kingdom, the extent of the operatic revolution was 
more clearly to be perceived in the perspective of 
events. When Augustus Harris put on his season at 
Drury Lane in 1887, ^ e new order was not immedi- 
ately and spontaneously acclaimed as a sign from 
heaven, nor were the ghosts and goblins of the past 
stricken from view. Undoubtedly Harris planted his 
foot on the soil of the golden strand, but he got it 
rather wet, so to speak, before he found firm 
ground. He had served an apprenticeship with 
the elder Gye, and had shown great aptitude and 
tactical skill in the difficult game of opera. He also 
had a little musical knowledge and much enthu- 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

That Harris felt the need for expert advice in his 
great adventure seems evident, from his co-option of 
Klein in his European tour in search of fresh vocal 
talent. He doubtless realized that Lago had no such 
need of assistance, and so was taking -no chances* 
Klein was a self-taught musician with a natural 
aptitude, and a journalist with a ready pen. He had 
some reputation as a musical oracle, which he did 
nothing to discourage; his friendship with Patti, 
and subsequently with the de Reszke coterie, greatly 
enhanced it. Harris and Klein between them brought 
home a very mixed bag, from which the lesser material 
was quickly weeded out, leaving a rich residue of 
some of the finest voices yet heard in London. 

Jean de Reszke is not to be regarded as a discovery 
to the credit of Harris and his technical adviser, 
since he had been without any doubt the hope and 
despair of every impresario in Europe for some 

Everybody knew that he had become a wonderful 
tenor, but he preferred to travel around with Jose- 
phine and Edouard, helping them with his advice, and 
hearing the finest singers. This, he afterwards wrote, 
was the happiest time of his life, but finally he was 
run to earth in Paris by Massenet and Manrel, who 
practically compelled him to return to the stage and 
create the role of the Baptist in Massenet's Hfoodiade. 
This was in 1884, *&& his first years as a tenor were 
spent at the Paris Opera, where he also created the 
role of the Gid in Massenet's opera of that name. 

It was therefore as a fully recognised artist in tenor 
roles that Jean came to London, and full recognition 
must be given to Harris and Klein for having brought 
it about, with Edouard also in the bag. Klein felt no 


Slump and Revival 

backwardness about claiming the discovery of Battis- 
tini while the pair were in Madrid, notwithstanding 
his previous appearance in London in 1883, although 
we may believe that it was a different Battistini from 
the one who sang then. It was a physical impossibility 
to pass over such a voice and such a s.inger as Battis- 
tini was in the days of his fame. His very presence on 
the stage dwarfed any of those who appeared with 
him even Melba and Caruso themselves and not 
only by his stature. He had a regal and commanding 
manner, with a voice to match it, produced with a 
velvety smoothness of cantilena and breath control 
which made his phrasing something to wonder at. 
He became one of the great singers of the time, 
showing no perceptible abatement of his powers even 
when past 70 years of age. 

Also from Madrid came Guerrina Fabbri, a dramatic 
contralto highly skilled in coloratura, although she was 
not called upon to that extent in the present season; 
and the tenor de Lucia, who was almost to match 
Battistini in his control and use of the vocal organ. He 
used a style of singing which was wholly Italian, with 
feats of breathing and change of registers which only 
he at that time used to any extent. His voice could 
range from a silvery thread of sound drawn out ad 
infinitum to a robust top A, after which he would 
change into a mixed or head production, when the 
listener might think he had no more breath left. 
He became the finest Ganio in the Pagliacci in which 
role I had the happiness, of hearing him, as in the 
Barbiere, in which his Almaviva was one of the most 
finished studies to be seen on our stage; beautiful in- 
deed was his long-drawn-out note introducing the 
enchanting Buona sera, mio signer e. 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

There was also the basso Francesco Nawarini (not 
to be confused with another basso Vittorio Nawarini) 
who never had much opportunity to shine, except 
perhaps as Leporello; and Sigrid Arnoldson, the 
Swedish soprano, who had every opportunity, and 
shone brightly both now and hereafter. Lillian 
Nordica was a natural choice, and joined the company, 
as did Minnie Hauk, Tremelli, Runcio, Pandolfini, 
del Puente, Maurd and Foli. The conductors were 
Mancinelli and Randegger. 

The opera for the opening night, introducing 
Jean de Reszke, was Aida, with Fabbri as Amneris 
and Kupfer-Berger as Aida. Kupfer-Berger was not 
one of the good choices, and was replaced by Nor- 
dica for later performances. The highest hopes were 
realised. "There was no hesitancy on the part of the 
audience/* wrote Clara Leiser, "no quibbling on the 
part of the critics. Here at last was a more than 
worthy successor to the much-talked-of Mario." 
Writers in the accredited musical journals found Jean 
a tenore robusto equal to the finest heard on the London 
stage for many years, full of power and never boister- 
ous. Jean and Edouard sang in Lohengrin, in Italian 
of course, with Minnie Hauk, Tremelli and Battistini, 
and Jean was voted the best Lohengrin yet seen in 
London; with Rom&>, it became his most famous 
role. He had another triumph in Faust, with Nordica, 
Edouard and Maurel, a performance which shook 
opera-goers and forced them to realise that some- 
thing was happening. The Rince and Princess of Wales 
set the fashion, and the opera again became the Society 
rendezvous; but the climax of the season was in Les 
Huguenots, when Jean excelled even his previous tri- 
umphs, supported by the full strength of the company. 


Slump and Revival 

I would like to quote here a letter written to me 
many years ago by one who was present at Jean's 
baritone debut in 1874, and never willingly missed 
any performance of his career in London. The 
correspondent was himself an amateur singer of 
ability, and a pupil of Maurel. Such an opinion as 
his, I believe, is more direct evidence than the files of 
contemporary newspapers, which were much too 
standardised in their reporting methods to invite full 
confidence in what was said. 

This is the extract : 

"It was my privilege to hear that incomparable 
artist (meaning Jean de Reszke) as far back as 
1874 in the role of Don Giovanni. He then sang 
as a baritone, and I well remember his hand- 
some presence and beautiful voice. After his 
retirement to study as a tenor, I heard him very 
often in nearly all his greatest successes. It was no 
exaggeration to describe him as the ideal artist. 
It seemed impossible to find anything in him to 
criticize. His voice had a timbre so beautiful 
that the very listening to it filled the heart with 
emotion and the eyes with tears. I have seen it 
stated that his voice was lacking in power, but this 
was not so, for his ringing high notes thrilled me 
hundreds of times, although the voice had not 
the stupendous trumpet-like quality of the great 
Tamagno. But his control of it was just perfect, 
as also was his taste and refinement in the use 
of it. To add to these great gifts he had a beau- 
tiful diction, histrionic ability which enabled him to 
identify himself completely with every character 
he portrayed, a very fine physique, and 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

perfect taste in the art of make-up and 

Although the above correspondent would never 
discuss such a thing, it was a recognised fact that 
Jean had his 'off-nights', being highly sensitive and 
nervous, and it is probable enough that those who 
heard him only under adverse conditions have left the 
impression that the voice was not a big one. In later 
years, when he and his brother Edouard were pricked 
and goaded by the Wagnerites, led by the critic 
Bernard Shaw, into singing the later Wagner dramas, 
there were indications of his discomfort in the two 
roles of Siegfried, and especially in the first, by the 
frequency with which he failed to appear. He was, in 
fact, the victim of something more than a craze; it was 
a movement, earth-shaking and irresistible, and, 
crazy as it seems to us today, it was made a matter of 
prestige that singers of such rare talents and abilities 
as the de Reszkes should bow to this clamour; and 
for Jean's delicate throat or so he imagined it to 
be the care of his voice was a first consideration. 

Jean de Reszke had created such furore that the 
nights when he was not singing were badly patronised, 
though there were six performances of the Barbiere 
with a cast of Arnoldson, de Lucia, Battistini, Edouard 
de Reszke and the veteran Ciampi. Besides these 
Barbiere performances, de Lucia was called upon 
only twice in the Tramata, which he sang with Arnold- 
son and Nordica, and Battistini. He was to return a 
few seasons later much matured, and carrying all 
before him in the triumphs of Mascagni's Cavalleria 
Rusticana and Leoncavallo's IPagliacci. 

Battistini, on the other hand, made no return 


Slump and Revival 

until 1906, when he especially distinguished himself 
by effacing Melba and Caruso in Traviata. He was in 
actual fact an aristocrat among singers, and sang for 
the love of it; and his absence from London was 
certainly of his own choosing. He was the only really 
great singer who steadily declined to visit America. 


With the move to Covent Garden, Harris may be 
said to have got well into his stride. The programme 
for the season was a conventional one, but sung by a 
company of extraordinary strength. The recruitment 
of the excellent Fiirsch-Madi, Ella Russell, Trebelli, 
Scalchi, Ravelli, Gotogni, Provost, d'Andrade and 
Lassalle was still further strengthened by the engage- 
ments of Melba and Margaret Maclntyre, and on 
the closing night of the season by the unconventional 
debut of Zelie de Lussan. It was well known that 
Melba's debut was something of a frost, but that may 
now have been forgotten. She was Marchesi's star 
pupil, and had triumphed at her Brussels debut and 
at the Paris Opera. She had already been coolly 
received by London managers, Sir Arthur Sullivan 
saying that if she continued to study he might be able 
to find her a place in his chorus. However, her debut 
was in Lucia, but with none of the usual publicity 
merely an announcement that a young Australian 
soprano would sing. The house was half empty, and 
the critics mostly stayed at home; so after one more 
performance, and another in Rigoktto, where the 

H [113] 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

experience was repeated, Melba, now seriously annoy- 
ed, packed up and returned to Brussels. But however 
short-sighted the critics proved themselves, there was 
one lady amateur, who was also a leader of London 
Society (a very potent factor) who discerned Melba's 
extraordinary singing genius, and made it her per- 
sonal business to ensure her return in the following 
year. Melba at first declined, but fortunately for 
Govent Garden and for London, she allowed herself 
to be persuaded, and thereafter her gracious patroness, 
who was the beautiful Lady de Grey, launched her as 
one of the most brilliant singers and most sought- 
after social figures in London in that day or any other. 
There is so much to say about Melba; she was much 
more than a singer to us in England, she was an in- 

In every way Melba's opposite in personal charac- 
teristics, Z61ie de Lussan to the day of her death in 
1950 was the kindest, liveliest, most humorous and 
altogether most enchanting creature. Her way through 
life was an easy one, with never a set-back; she had a 
quick intelligence and a flashing pair of eyes, and was 
never heard to say an unkind word. She had a natural 
voice which served her for a reasonably long time, and 
she was a brilliant actress; hence it was inevitable 
that her best-known role should have been Garmen, in 
which she was to rank with Calve as the greatest of all, 
though by that time Minnie Hauk, Pauline Lucca and 
Zelia Trebelli might have been forgotten. 

It was in this year that Mapleson, who had admired 
her work in America, where she was living (she was 
purely French by birth), invited her to come to 
London, where he might do something for her. 
Meeting her on arrival, he asked her whether she had 

Slump and Revival 

remembered to bring her Carmen costume, since he 
had arranged with Harris for her to appear in that 
character immediately; and, although Minnie Hauk 
was singing Carmen that season, her success, with 
Ravelli as her first European Don Jose, was in no 

Successive retirements of our friends from the 
opera stage will become increasingly noticeable, and 
the year 1887 had seen the departure of the popular 
'Signor Foli* who, as everybody knew, was an Irish- 
man whose real name was Foley. He continued, 
however, to be a leading artist in concerts and ora- 
torios. Following the season of 1888, London opera lost 
del Puente and Trebelli. The latter, at the age of 50, 
we are assured, had retained her youthful figure, her 
vivacity of action and her splendid voice, and made 
one of the most personable 'boys' ever seen on the 
stage. Perhaps her most famous impersonation was 
Maffio Orsini in Lucrezia Borgia, which opened the 
opera season, and with Trebelli's departure this opera 
departed from London also. 

Another departure was Meyerbeer's spectacular 
L'Africaine, but it disappeared in a blaze of glory, 
with Nordica, Maclntyre, the de Reszke brothers and 
Lassalle, to give it a memorable farewell. If this work 
should ever again appear in London, we may perhaps 
accept it as a sign of the dawn of a new Golden Age. 


This was Mapleson's final season at Her Majesty's 
Theatre. We cannot bid farewell to the genial and 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

courageous Colonel without very real regret. His 
picturesque personality is never spoken of by those 
who knew him without affection; for while his shrewd- 
ness and his powers of persuasion sometimes triumphed 
over judgment, they left nothing but good humour be- 
hind; and of his unquenchable optimism the record 
of his final struggles tells its own tale. Mme de Lussan, 
who sang for him in this final season, has related how 
she was entertained to dinner by a shadowy financier 
from whom Mapleson evidently had hopes of support. 
But, in the event, the dinner was no more substantial 
than the financier himself who was actually in no 
better case than was Mapleson, and the abrupt dis- 
appearance of the one was followed immediately by 
the downfall, complete and final, of the other. At 
what date Mapleson began to write his memoirs is 
not clear, as the book ends quite abruptly, but it may 
well have been after this final season. If that was so, 
the memoirs speak highly for his philosophic outlook 
and his kindly sense of humour, for there is in them 
no trace of rancour, self-pity or recrimination: he 
took the rough with the smooth, and evidently en- 
joyed every moment of it, and we may all feel a real 
satisfaction, if only through the inadequate medium 
of these pages, at having met and known so gallant a 

Of those artists who sang for him in 1889, probably 
with slight hope of reward, let us mention Tremelli, 
Runcio, Galassi and Padilla. There were also Mile 
Dotti and Regina Pacini, whom we find here & 
pupil of Marchesi correctly making her debut in the 
Sonnambula at the age of 21, three years before her 
'debut' [sic] in Lisbon. Mile Pacini, who came of 
distinguished musical stock, was to sing in 1903 at 


Slump and Revival 

Covent Garden with Caruso in L'Elisir (FAmore. 
Z61ie de Lussan was also happy to repay some of 
Mapleson's kindness, and sang Margherita in the 
four performances of Faust, sometimes in her own 
black hair and at others in the usual flaxen coiffure. 

We say farewell to Mme Tremelli, who retired from 
Italian opera to continue her work with the Carl Rosa 
Company, now under Harris's control since the death 
of Carl Rosa in 1888. It was she who had sung the 
role of Herodiade at Jean de Reszke's tenor debut in 
Paris on March i, 1884. 

An event of extraordinary interest in the story of 
London opera occurred at Sir Henry living's Ly- 
ceum Theatre in the production, with the entire 
company, scenery and orchestra from La Scala, of 
Verdi's masterpiece Otello, put on by Mr M. L. 
Mayer. It is well known that Tamagno and Maurel 
were the composer's own choice for the two principal 
roles, and it is generally conceded that neither have 
ever been surpassed or even equalled in them. Al- 
though Tamagno had a voice of immense volume, it 
was of beautiful quality and used with unfailing 
taste. There was a softness in his timbre which was his 
alone, and completely devoid of any sense of strain. 
He could and did colour his voice with dramatic 
effect, and at his London debut the audience was 
carried away both by the splendour of his singing and 
by his intensely tragic acting. The electrifying effect 
of his entrance, beginning with the unique passage 
Esultatel U&rgoglio musidmano, so fatal to most Otellos, 
put Tamagno at once in the front rank of tenors. 

TTie Age of Jean de Reszke 

Despite his already long career of triumphs, Maurel 
had never before approached the artistic achievement 
of his superb lago. With his moustache painted out, 
accentuated eyebrows and a long wig of thin hair to 
his shoulders, and dressed in the gayest style of the 
period, he made a striking renaissance figure; and 
some idea of the effect of his performance may be 
gained from the fact that his subtlety and finesse fully 
equalled, and in the opinion of some surpassed, the 
effect of his mighty partner. 

Gataneo, the Desdemona of the Scala, was admired 
for her intelligence, skill and discretion in the use of a 
powerful and resonant voice, but neither she, nor the 
competent company, nor the orchestra, which played 
faultlessly under their director Faccio, could reach the 
heights of Tamagno and Maurel, whose joint triumph 
in the presence of one of the most interesting and 
musically representative audiences ever gathered in an 
opera house, is one of the landmarks of our story. 
Twelve performances were given, and other artists 
appearing were Mile Matiuzzi and Signori Paroli, 
Silvestri, Durini and Marini not, as will be noticed, 
all strangers to London. 

As already stated, Harris was now in control of the 
Carl Rosa Company as well as of the Royal Italian 
Opera, and he cleverly made use of this advantage to 
form a sort of pool of singers to alternate between the 
two houses, thus keeping those who were not absolute 
stars well employed, and at the same time increasing the 
prestige of the English company. Z&ie de Lussan, 
Minnie Hank, Marie Roze, Valleria and Runcio 


Slump and Revival 

alternated in this plan, and many of the regular Carl 
Rosa singers, most notably the lamented Joseph Maas, 
made occasional appearances at Govent Garden. 
Now re-named Les Pfoheurs des Perles, Bizet's Leila 
opened Harris's new season of 1889, ftk Ella Russell 
sharing the two performances with Valda, and 
Talazac, a new tenor, with d'Andrade and Miranda: 
but it was no use, and the opera would not do, which 
may have given some comfort to Mapleson, who 
had said that, given sufficient capital to see it 
through, he thought that lie could have made it a 

The position of Carmen in this season was some- 
what paradoxical, for with Minnie Hauk busy with 
the villa at Tribschen, and Zelie de Lussan under 
contract to Mapleson, who was debarred by performing 
rights from producing the work, Harris was under the 
necessity of employing Mapleson's daughter-in-law 
Marie Roze, who sang in the four performances, 
being available from the Carl Rosa Company. 

Melba's true triumphs may be said to have dated 
from this season, for, with a company of less than the 
usual all-round strength, it was clear that Harris was 
banking upon the great popularity of the de Reszke 
brothers, and perhaps from his own point of view 
gambling on Melba. He need not have doubted, 
however, since the combination justified all risks. 
The dubious Romto et Juliette had the success of the 
season (with Faust] , receiving seven performances, 
with Melba and de Reszke singing unchanged. Faust 
on the other hand was sting by three Margheritas 
(Maclntyre, Nordica and Melba, in the order of 
their appearances), four Fauste (Montaxiol, Talazac, 
Jean de Reszke and A. d'Andrade), three Valentines, 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

(Winogradow, Lassalle and F. d'Andrade), and two 
Mcphistos (Gastelmary and Edouard de Reszke 
the latter singing six times). Scalchi sang Siebel un- 

Jean's Lohengrin was still further admired, the 
opinion being that he showed the character in a light 
not seen before, which we need feel no difficulty in 
believing. Albani and Nordica shared the six per- 

The remaining event of the season was the produc- 
tion of an edited and Italian version of Die Meister- 
singer, which, although coining late in the season, was 
quite successful, for Jean made history by his pictures- 
que and poetic embodiment of Walter, with Lassalle 
hardly second to him in a highly finished rendering of 
Sachs. Albani was the Eva. 

Jean was now establishing himself as the ideal 
interpreter of roles which became virtually his own. 
His Raoul in the Huguenots was as gallant a figure as 
the stage has ever shown, and at this period of his 
career he continued occasionally to sing Radames, 
adding Otello two years later. While last year Harris 
had gambled on six new sopranos, this season he 
tried six new tenors, but without making history. The 
only new soprano of importance was Mme Schlager, 
who was successful in the Trovatore and as Valentina 
in Les Huguenots. The advances made by Margaret 
Maclntyre and Ella Russell were notable, the extra- 
ordinary range of the latter being greatly admired 
when she sang the Queen in Les Huguenots, Violetta, in 
the Pfahewrs des Perks, and Zerlina in Don Giovanni, 
besides singing in the Royal Gala for the Shah of 
Persia, whose degree of appreciation of this perform- 
ance has been variously related. Scenes were given 


Slump and Revival 

from Lucia> Faust and Mefistofele, a veritable orgy of 
talent was exhibited, and the Opera House was richly 

We bid farewell this season to Antonio Cotogni 
one of the leading baritones of the second half of the 
century. His services to opera began in 1867, and 
extended with hardly a break until the end of this 
season. His appearances in late years had been few, 
for which no doubt the success of such brilliant 
younger baritones as Lassalle and d'Andrade may 
have shared the responsibility with his own increasing 

The most interesting personal event of Harris's 
next season was the success of Mme Richard in Meyer- 
beer's Le Prophbte, which was sung, in French, no fewer 
than five times, which for this work was a good num- 
ber, with the brothers de Reszke contributing to this 
result. The debut of the Spanish tenor Valero may be 
noted a pupil of Tamberlik, and a refined if not a 
striking singer with much of the timbre of Gayarre, 
but an artist on a lesser scale. He sang in Faust, 
Carmen, PScheurs des Perles, and, unsuitably I think, 
once in Lohengrin. 

Elvira Tetrazzini, a sister of the famous Luisa who 
swept London off its feet in 1907 and for several 
subsequent years, was unfortunate and for some 
reason entirely failed to please. It has been related, 
probably with more malice than truth, that the 
audience hurriedly quitted the house during the last 


The Age of Jean de 

act of the Huguenots^ when she and a tenor of a single 
appearance were singing the duet. Far more likely is 
my guess that the opera was running late, and that 
those with trains to catch had to leave. The opera 
was given six times, with Russell singing four times as 
the Queen and once as Valentina. For reasons not 
known Jean de Reszke did not appear as Raoul, and, 
following the failure noted above, the useful Ravelli 
completed the series. 

Gerster injudiciously attempted a 'come-back', 
ironically in that vehicle for debutantes, La Sonnambula. 
Zelie de Lussan, now established as the dominant 
Carmen, appeared in all five performances, in the last 
of which, and on an 'extra night 5 , Jean de Reszke 
made his debut as Don Jose, with Lassalle, beardless 
for the occasion, as Escamillo. The occasion had been 
planned as a sort of gala, with Melba to sing Micaela, 
but that was not to happen until the following year; 
this Micaela was Regina Pinkert, a young singer 
making her London debut. Such were the high 
spirits on this occasion that the three conductors, 
Randegger, Bevignani and Mancinelli, permitted 
themselves and each other to conduct in turn ! 

At the time of writing, when some of us have 
suffered the distress of seeing a Carmen at Covent 
Garden standing as still as an image throughout the 
final duet, it is amusing to recall Zelie de Lussan's 
account of how Jean de Reszke once begged her not 
to force him to follow her round the stage at such 
speed, because his breath wouldn't stand it. 

Z&ie also appeared in all four performances of Don 
Giovanni, in which, in the role of Zerlina, her re- 
semblance to Patti, both facially and vocally, was 
generally remarked, even by Patti herself, who showed 


Slump and Revival 

great friendship for her 'little daughter', as she 
called her. In this opera Plunket Greene appeared as 
the Commander. 

Melba, Richard, and Lassalle appeared in the single 
staging of Hamlet, and the only absolute novelty of the 
season was Goring Thomas's Esmerdda, which was 
more of a social than a musical event, and if casting 
could have ensured its success, Melba, Pinkert, Jean de 
Reszke and Lassalle supplied the material necessary; 
but it was not the stuff of which Grand Opera was 
made, although it survived precariously in its original 
English text in the repertoire of the Carl Rosa Com- 

Again Faust was sung with a much varied cast. 
Mme de Nuovina made her London debut as Marg- 
herita, which she sang three times, to once each by 
Melba, Nordica and Russell, and appeared, with 
most of the cast unchanged, in Le Proph&te. Jean de 
Reszke sang four times in Faust, five times in Lohen- 
grin, five times with Melba in Romia et Juliette, three 
in Esmeralda, and six in Le Prophete. Melba, now sure 
of her ground, sang three times in Lucia, proving, if 
proof were needed, that it was not an unlucky opera 
for her, also three Rigolettos, three Esmeraldas, one 
Faust and two Lohengrins, besides the Hamlet. 

Mme Richard, we may remark in passing, was 
given the honour of singing in a State Concert at 
Buckingham Palace, at the same time as Z61ie de 
Lussan, who had quite captured the fancy of the 
Queen, who honoured her with no fewer than three 
Command Performances, one of which was of Carmen 
at Windsor Castle. 

The departing artist this year was Mme Scalchi, 
the illustrious contralto and partner of Patti for 22 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

years, during by far the greater part of which time 
she had sung the mezzo roles practically unaided. 
She had been the Leonora in the Favonta at Mario's 
farewell appearance at Covent Garden in 1871; and 
Mario, says Klein, had a great admiration for her 
magnificent voice. 

In this season, Romto, Favorita, Le Prophbte, Hamlet 
and Carmen were sung in French for the first time in 
London. Esmeralda was also sung in French, having 
been translated from the English for Covent Garden. 

The debated question of opera in English or other- 
wise certainly seems to have been carried to an 
absurdity by this translation of an established English 
work for performance at the leading English opera 
house. It is not quite so simple, however. Firstly, 
there was the firmly established convention that Italian 
was the only polite language for opera, a convention 
unbroken for so long as to have made it an unchange- 
able rule, until pressure of events in this year 1890 
modified the rule by adding to it "... or French". 
Allowing that it was the wish of somebody in authority 
that Esmeralda should be produced with an all-star 
cast, an English libretto would have ruled that out as 
impossible, so French it had to be. Later, it was 
lightly said that it did not matter what language was 
used in opera provided that it was one that could not 
be understood an unconscious acknowledgment of 
a witticism made 200 years earlier, and quoted by 
Clara Leiser, in which Addison ascribed the trans- 
lating of libretti into foreign tongues as an escape 
from the exasperation of hearing odd words here 
and there and never making sense of them. Better 
than that, it positively prevents all save linguists 
from spoiling their musical enjoyment through vain 

Slump and Revival 

attempts to follow words which axe seldom worth 
following. Although Italian opera loses very much in 
translation, it seems that French opera does not, and 
while German opera in English may be quite tolerable 
to most, French or Italian opera put into the German 
is a different proposition altogether. 

Lago, whose seasons were always productive of 
something interesting, whether new work or new singer, 
distinguished himself by introducing to Londoners 
in an autumn season the almost unique art of Giulia 
Ravogli unique because this singer created a vogue 
for Gluck's Orfeo, a rare feat indeed, and, by way of 
contrast, gave an unusually striking account of 
Ortnida (it was still Ortrudb) in Lohengrin. This 
6 Admirable Crichton* among lady singers, in the 
course of her London career, so fascinated her audi- 
ences that it seemed that she only needed to play any 
role to play it perfectly, and if that was truly so, so 
much the better for her. Without being truly beauti- 
ful, Ravogli certainly gave the illusion of it, with her 
great grace and charm of manner setting off a con- 
tralto of lovely quality; and even if the conditions in 
her contract (for which statement the writer relies 
upon report and some probability) stipulated for a 
parallel engagement for her somewhat less greatly 
gifted soprano sister Sophia, that did not deter Harris 
in later seasons from again carrying a rich discovery 
by Lago. 

In the early days of the season Gluck's masterpiece, 
generally too short to be given alone, made the even- 
ing's entertainment for five performances a fine 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

business proposition for the management, and a 
tribute to the artist who made it possible. Later, as 
we shall see, it reached the fantastic figure of 15 
performances, but we shall at the same time discover 
the reason for this apparent phenomenon. 

Giulia Ravogli's record in her first London season is 
remarkable, for, besides her Orfeo, she appeared as 
Urbano in Les Huguenots with such success as to excite 
general comment, as Laura in La Gioconda, Azucena, 
Ortruda and Amneris the last being the role in 
which she made her debut, with Sophia as Aida. 
There was clearly a disposition to acclaim everything 
that La Ravogli did as quite perfect, and no doubt it 

The last performances to be heard in London 
during this season were of UEtoile du Nord and Robert 
le Diable suggesting that the vogue of Meyerbeer 
was already in decline and extraordinarily little 
remains of them today. 

The retirement of Signer Galassi marks another 
milestone, as this most useful artist had sung in London 
with hardly a break for 1 7 years, and in The Mapleson 
Memoirs we find several grateful and appreciative 
references to his loyal and sterling qualities, and to the 
firm friendship which existed between him and his 
manager. He was a baritone with a powerful voice 
and untiring energy; and if he lacked subtlety, he 
left not the slightest doubt about what he was trying 
to portray. 

Charles Manners and his, wife Fanny Moody sang 
during the season, being transferred from the Carl 
Rosa Company, from which some few years later they 
broke away, taking with them the cream of the singers, 
to form the Moody-Manners Opera Company, which 

Slump and Revival 

generally maintained the high standard from which 
the older organisation was gradually slipping away. 
Mme Stromfield was a successful debutante, singing 
the Queen in the Huguenots, Lucia, Rigoletto, and 
taking part in the single and last London perform- 
ance ofL'Etoile du Nord. Perotti was a useful find for 
the Italian Lohengrin, and, with the Greek tenor 
Dimitresco, was annexed by Harris in due course. 

So successful was the season that Lago entertained 
hopes of pulling through and taJdng his place at the 
head of London opera, but it was never probable 
that he could have commanded the imponderable 
factors which are indispensable to success in that 

Scene from Norma, Her Majesty's, 1877. 









) J, H. Mapleson. 





f - t , *H ' p T .,,'"* |* ,|' , s '' s ' , v ' v ' t^^^ 

y& >/ > ^%jiii^iiii4^ 

L ^? - ,-r, 'i r^,, i $*r f*-^ ^r V^Lf ^vl.r 


Prospectus for first London performance of the Ring. 

Edouard de Reszke as Mephistopheles, 1884. 

; ''* /A, 1 ' 1 '';/,;:' 
>' , . ^' l 'J' t > : -" 


' '*""" I 'll*>l 



>LCbO*Y, JULV Mv IS<* 



ir a 

' ' ' i S8*. W **at fe* 'WStWECCU vt* 


Ptogramme for State Visit of the Shah of Persia, 1889. 

The Ravogli Sisters as Orfeo and Eurydice, 1890. 



















(a) Pol Plan$on as San Bris in 
Les Huguenots, 1893. 

(b) Self-portrait sketch by 

(c) Scotti, Tosti and Caruso in native costume. 


EUcrmc cARRiACffls FOP SP^H ' ^ urzon 

#U OR HlRf. 

these, O^rrt^s can Him In a 
'rwrow s*pgt 



Programme for La 7Vawto at Covent Garden, 1906. 


The Golden Age 


Awe are now on the threshold of the great 
upward surge of the 'nineties, we may begin to 
prepare ourselves for a period of boom condi- 
tions, so conducive in other fields to the flotation 
of weak concerns. We shall find that, between 1890 
and 1900, 26 new operas were to be staged, of which 
all save four never had any reasonable hope. So 
great was the demand, that managers were at their 
wits 5 end to find new material to satisfy it, and hoped 
no doubt that the public would accept it. It was, 
however, the beginning of the epoch when composi- 
tion was becoming sterile, and it was very obviously 
not a case of young composers of genius awaiting 
only their opportunity. Harris gave opportunity in 
plenty, but there were too few to take advantage 
of it. 

From time to time operas which have had a long 
vogue on the Continent have reached London, only 
to reveal their aridity and bore their audiences. We 
are sometimes reproached because English composers 
are better appreciated abroad than they are in their 
own country, which may offer further proof that there 
can be no absolute standards in matters of taste. If 
we project our minds into the new century, we shall 
find little cause for gladness in the extreme fewness 
of compositions of merit. 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 


The good work done by Harris since the inaugura- 
tion of the new system at Govent Garden now begins 
to show results in full measure. The much improved 
subscription and attendances began to be reflected in 
increased numbers of performances of the most 
appreciated operas. With eleven performances of 
Faust> nine of Lohengrin, and eight each of Romto and 
Les Huguenots, with marked advances in other works, 
it is easy to detect the infectious feeling of prosperity 
which prevailed in the Opera House. 

The Ravogli sisters, needless to say, now graced the 
Royal Opera, and our thanks must go to Lago for 
this event. Sybil Sanderson, a beautiful American for 
whom Massenet wrote Manon, was the obvious 
choice for the opera's London premiere, which also 
introduced another and more permament debutant in 
Ernest van Dyck, who sang as Des Grieux. There 
were four performances, and the opera made spas- 
modic and intermittent reappearances, but despite 
Miss Sanderson's famous G in alt, its rather sickly 
charm did not commend itself, nor has it since 
seemed to do so. 

Epoch-making new engagements were those of 
Emma Eames and Pol Plangon, which enabled ad- 
mirers of singing of the purest quality to make their 
choice between Mdba and Eames to partner Jean de 
Reszke, who was now on so high a pedestal as to 
ensure special notices for an opera when he made his 
appearance in it. Richard, Albani, Nordica and de 

The Golden Age 

Lussan did not exhaust the list of eminent and 
excellent sopranos, for Ravogli, Pinkert, Sander- 
son and Mravina all attracted favourable notice. 
Ravelli was now the doyen of the tenors, with van 
Dyck as the most important newcomer; Maurel 
and Lassalle easily led among no fewer than ten 
baritones, and Plangon and Edouard de Reszke 
added immensely to the prestige of the once despised 

The triumph of Eames was hardly less important 
than that of Melba, for in perfection of voice and 
technique (both were pupils of Marchesi) there was 
little to choose between them. In speaking of either 
it was a popular gambit to describe them as *cokT, 
and if they did not possess what is known as 'the 
southern temperament*, it would be difficult to 
imagine what they would have been like if they had 
had it. If Melba's voice and art fulfilled all the 
requirements of classical perfection, leaving little 
room for the intrusion of human emotions, it offered a 
powerful contrast to those singers who relied upon 
them to make their appeal both approaches, as we 
think, claiming a proper and legitimate place in the 
interpretation of vocal music. Earnest delivery was 
no less perfect, but there was in her voice an added 
lusciousness, creamy and velvety in timbre a touch 
of romance, which could be most affecting. 

In the twelve Fausts, Eames sang nine times with 
five different Fausts. She sang seven times as Elsa in 
Lohengrin, and divided with Melba the eight Juliettes. 
In the three performances in French of Mireille, she 
took the role sung by Nevada in 1 887. 

Edouard de Reszke was the Mephisto in Boito's 
opera, the King in Lohengrin, and the Friar in Romto et 

The Age of Jean 

Juliette, also singing in Le Prophite, Don Giovanni, and 
Les Huguenots. 

In one of the seven Carmens, the historic cast was 
de Lussan, Melba, Jean de Reszke and Lassalle, and 
in this Melba's rendering of Micaela's air in the 
third act caused a rapturous outburst of applause 
which brought about a repetition. But never again 
was Micaela's music so perfectly sung, for never again 
did Melba sing it, although it would be difficult to 
select a piece more ideally adapted to Melba's style 
and temperament. 

It will give some indication of the magnitude of 
this season to see the numbers of times which the best 
known artists sang, omitting the State Performance: 

Albani, 24: Dufriche, 21 : Eames, 24: De Lussan, 
ii : Lassalle, 18: Maurel, 43: Melba, 13: Rav- 
elli, 19: Giulia Ravogli, 20: Edouard de Reszke, 
41 : Jean de Reszke, 32. 

The greatest number of performances was achieved 
by Mile Bauermeister, who sang utiliti roles 50 times. 
The veteran buffo Ciampi sang 15 times, and the 
successful debutante Mravina ten times. Nordica 
sang three times only, Perotti, the Italian Wagnerian 
tenor, nine times, Pinkert eight and Plangon seven. 

M. Dufiiche, who was to become almost an in- 
stitution by reason of his multifarious activities, and 
was so admirable a musician as to be able to sing 
almost any role in an emergency, proved his adap- 
tability by understudying Maurel in Otello, and 
winning great applause. Maurel had caused some 
disappointment to put it at its lowest by throwing 
up at the eleventh hour his role in the projected 
production of de Lara's Light of Asia, causing the 

The Golden Age 

work to be withdrawn, on account of dissatisfaction 
with his role. He was probably right, but Lassalle 
subsequently accepted it in 1892. 

Maurel could at times be touchy and difficult, and 
whatever it was that upset him at the time whether 
the role in the de Lara opera or something quite 
different he took himself off in some dudgeon, 
leaving his roles to be filled at discretion, and some 
of his colleagues and coadjutors not too well pleased. 

Jean's Otello is as difficult to judge as Ravogli's 
Carmen, as it was almost a sacrilege to suggest that 
either could fail in anything. It was, at the time, 
lauded to the skies, and doubtless any marked diff- 
erences observed between the renderings of Jean and 
Tamagno were accounted as to Tamagno's detriment. 
Such discrimination would in fact be near to fiivolity, 
for it is easy to guess that Jean as Otello would be 
unsuited, by both voice and temperament. It is not 
enough to claim that a role is better sung if it is sung 
without heroics, though certainly if heroics are lacking 
in a singer he will do better not to attempt any, but 
the role, if a heroic one, will suffer. In due course 
Tamagno returned, and then Londoners or rather 
those of them who would hear no wrong of their 
idol conveniently forgot that Jean had ever sung the 

Except for the memorable production at the 
Lyceum, this might be called Otello** London premiere: 
it was .given four times, with Albani singing Desde- 
mona thrice, and Eames once. Maurel again com- 
peted for the chief honours of the premiere with his 
wonderful lago. 

Plangon, judged by beauty of timbre and by his 
finished style, was a more polished singer than Edouard 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

de Reszke. Although he was generally rated as a 
basso cantante, this was more on account of the lightness 
and flexibility of his delivery than from any lack of 
profundity. His more resilient and more sensitive 
organ was not suited to the Wagnerian roles which 
Edouard later essayed, excepting those of the Land- 
grave in Tannhauser and the King in Lohengrin, in 
which he must have been extremely satisfying. In all 
his roles he was intelligent and musicianly, and his 
strikingly handsome appearance and athletic move- 
ments all built up a very memorable stage figure. 

There was a State Performance on July 8, in honour 
of the German Emperor and Empress, in which acts 
from Lohengrin, Orfeo, Les Huguenots and Romeo et 
Juliette were given, in which Jean de Reszke sang 
Lohengrin, Raoul and Romeo; Eames sang Elsa; 
Melba sang Juliette; the Ravogli sisters naturally 
sang in Orfeo, and Albani and Edouard in Les Hugue- 

The tenor Ravelli retired from London opera after 
this season, having given 12 years of useful service; 
and after his unconventional beginning (see Maple- 
son's season of 1880) such a record may be considered 
remarkable. His departure caused general regret, as 
Mapleson has testified, despite several trying epi- 
sodes; this is cordially corroborated by Mmes Emma 
Nevada and Zelie de Lussan, both of whom knew 
him well. 

In this unique season Signor Lago made history 
at the Shaftesbury Theatre by staging Mascagni's 
Cavalleria Rusticana for the first time in England, and, 


The Golden Age 

as not far distant events were to show, never did this 
unsuspecting impresario make a more acceptable 
gift to the wide-awake Harris. Klein and others have 
written sKghtingly of this production a clear piece of 
superiority which we may readily dismiss, since, 
whatever imperfections a first-night critic may have 
observed, the sheer number of performances by 
evidently acceptable artists would have disposed of 
those in two or three nights. Moreover, the fact that 
the entire production was commanded to Windsor 
Castle for the enjoyment of the Queen and the Court 
should be a sufficient answer to any such carping. 

Cavalleria Rusticana was played 45 times in this 
season, and during this remarkable run Marie Brema 
(now heard for the first time) and a baritone called 
Brombara played without a break as Lola and Alfio. 
Turridu was shared between Vignas and Bertini, 
slightly more often by the former. Santuzza was 
sung 21 times by Musiani (who, with Vignas, took 
part in the premitre), 20 times by Elandi, and twice 
each by Maclntyre and Valda. It was Elandi and 
Vignas who sang at the Command Performance. 

Thus we welcome a work of great merit, which was 
to be a trump card for producers of opera for many 
years, until the leading artists began to tire of it, 
relegating it to second place when it became the 
custom to play Cavalleria and Pagliacd together. 
Subsequently a complete volte-face took place, and it 
was taken as a sign ofruuveti to confess to an admiration 
for this admirable work; it became a sort of drudge 
among operas, and useful only as a means of staging 
Pagliacd. From its pinnacle of fame in the 'nineties, 
*Cav 9 , as it lamentably came to be known, was to be 
heard only, with rare exceptions, when played either 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

by amateurs or English touring companies, which 
was unfair both to the companies and to the opera. 
It absolutely needs a very high degree of professional 
skill, and not, moreover, of a type indigenous to our 
English soil. Harris and his advisers were under no 
illusions about the sterling merit of this full-blooded 
and most sincere little work, nor about the excellence of 
Marie Brema and Vignas, both of whom enrolled them- 
selves at Covent Garden. 

If any artist was offered by fortune the opportunity 
of fame, surely it was Adelaide Musiani, the San- 
tuzza of the premiere, but nothing more was heard of 
her. Harris ignored her, and she made no further 
appearance in the capital; and yet so overwhelming 
a success as the opera achieved would have been out of 
the question if the Santuzza had been inadequate. It 
was as an actress that she most greatly distinguished 
herself, and she was acknowledged as a good artist. 

Before reaching London, Cavalleria Rusticana had 
swept through Italy, completely conquered Austria 
and Germany, and was being played in all the opera 
houses of Europe. It is still the same opera now as it 
was then; what has happened to it ? 

Other items in the season suffered through the 
furore caused by Mascagni's success. Fabbri returned 
after five years (she had been the Amneris at Jean de 
Reszke's tenor debut at Drury Lane), singing in 
Rossini's La Cenerentola, but she was physically not 
ideal for the role, and was weakly supported. One 
performance was enough. Fabbri also sang one 
performance of Orfeo, and Blanchart, a baritone of 
future fame, sang the King in one performance of 
Ermrn, and the title-role in The Flying Dutchman, in 
which latter work the audience endured or enjoyed a 

The Golden Age 

unique experience, for both orchestra and principals 
were unrehearsed, and were furthermore uninformed 
as to cute and arrangements, with the result that the 
voice of the prompter who surely deserved a call 
supplied in the voice of the required role the many 
failures to take up cues. Three further performances, 
however, were without mishap, although one wonders 
whether reports of the fun on the first night may have 
attracted the later audiences. 

The remainder of the season consisted of the various 
makeshifts to act as companions for Caoalkria^ such as 
the Riccis 5 comic opera Crispino e la Comare, which was 
formerly a favourite, excerpts from II Barbim and 
Ernani, and even the overture and second act of 
The Flying Dutchman. 

Cimarosa's // Matrimonio Segreto was given once, 
with Valda, Gargano, Fabbri and Ciampi, as was 
L'Elisir d'amore, with Mile Gargano. There were also 
two entire performances of the Barbiere. 

Harris put on a hastily contrived autumn season 
at Govent Garden, timed to offset Signor Lago's 
enterprise at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Although the 
operas were sung principally in French, there was 
sometimes a strange admixture of languages, when 
Italian, French and English singers, for example, met 
in a German opera. There was one notable premttre, 
and one less notable; Gounod's charming Pkitimon et 
Baucis and Bruneau's Le Rfae. Mile Shnmonet from 
the Opera Gomique, Paris, sang acceptably as 
Juliette with Gossira, also a newcomer, as Romeo. 
She was the Baucis in the Gounod novelty, in which 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

also appeared MM. Bouvet and Lorrain as the two 
bass gods in disguise. Their contrasted arias seem to 
be all that remain from this pleasant work. Simmonet 
was the Micaela when Mme Deschamps sang her 
Carmen in London for the first time, and they sang 
together also in Le RSve. It was in Lohengrin that two 
of the tenors Scovell and Hedmondt sang the 
name part in the English language; Martini and di 
Spagni sang Elsa and Ortrud in Italian, and the re- 
mainder in French. 

If this rather aimless season plucked a few feathers 
from Lago's plumage, no doubt it served its purpose. 


At Covent Garden, for the first time, the traditional 
title of 'Royal Italian Opera 5 gave way to that of 
'Royal Opera 5 . The change in name was as in- 
evitable as was the change in fashion. The French 
language was becoming accepted for French works 
and even extended further, as we shall see and, with 
the advance of the Wagner avalanche, Italian was on 
the way to taking third place. As it had been asking 
too much of Italian singers to sing in German, the 
only remedy was to invite German singers, and if 
German singers, why not French, to sing their operas 
as they were written? It all worked out perfectly, 
and opera's stock began to soar. 

This season was the most brilliant that had so far 
happened, and so enormous was the demand for 
seating that the fortunate Harris was able to fill both 
Covent Garden and Drury Lane simultaneously. 


The Golden Age 

The combination of artists was the greatest that had 
been gathered together since the famous Gye-Maple- 
son coalition in 1869. Klein, who made this observa- 
tion, added in his journalistic capacity that so excel- 
lent were the performances of Tristan and the Ring 
as to "arouse surprise at home and envy abroad". 
He accurately gauged the splendid period then in 
progress, and wrote of it with rising appreciation, and 
with no suggestion that "things were better with 
Titiens and Faure". 

Harris lost no time whatever in cashing in on Lago's 
success, and actually opened his season with Cavatteria 
Rusticana, at the same time introducing Emma Calve, 
partnered by de Lucia, who had much improved since 
his London debut in 1887. That Cavalleria should 
renew its rushing progress through more sophisticated 
circles with such exponents is nothing surprising, and 
with such a Santuzza it could hardly have been other- 
wise. In this role alone her place in history is assured, 
for Calve was a great actress as well as a great singer. 
She had a voice of real beauty, ranging from deepest 
mezzo to coloratura soprano. She herself used to say 
that she had two different voices, so never had to 
strain the one in order to reach the other. Her per- 
sonality was forceful and irresistible, and she was a 
beautifol woman. When she came to sing Carmen in 
the following year she made, so to speak, a new blue- 
print of the role and, with the earlier Carmens re- 
ceding from the memory, Calv6 shared with Zelie de 
Lussan the topmost place in the public regard. 

In the years of my friendship with Zelie, I have 
heard her tell how, on occasions when she entertained 
Emma Calv at her famous flat in Ashley Gardens, 
these one-time rivals would become so mellowed by 

The Age of Jean 

good food, good drink and good talk, that each would 
assure the other of being truly the greatest of Carmens. 
"Yes," she said, "Calv6 sat where you are sitting 
now." Galv6 was a difficult and not particularly good- 
tempered woman, and folly shared the jealousy said 
to have been common among famous prima donnas, 
but such feelings would melt away under Z61ie's 
genial influence. 

Of de Lucia it is safe to say that he was at the height 
of his powers, and more than ready for the greater 
success that was awaiting him in the following year. 
In a role of so foil a southern flavour as Turridu he 
was ideally cast. This is said without any reflection on 
Vignas, who had done so much to assure the opera's 

Without imputing any lack of perception to Augus- 
tus Harris, whose abilities were obvious and out- 
standing, it seems that in musical judgments he was 
most successful where others had shown him the way; 
and so it was his business instinct rather than his 
musical flair which suggested to him that Mascagni 
was evidently a trump card to play. He secured an 
option on the new three-act opera on which the com- 
poser was at work. This was UAmico Fritz, which he 
put on with so fine a cast as Galv6, Giulia Ravogli, de 
Lucia and Dufiiche* But in this he was unlucky, for 
although the opera has greater musical value if less 
primitive appeal (indeed of this latter quality it is 
quite devoid), the public remained under the spell of 
Caodleria. The work was repeated in the autumn of 
the same year with a different cast, and except for a 
angle performance in the following year, in which 
Pauline Joran as Beppe played her own violin seren- 
ade, the exquisite work remained on the shelf until 

The Golden Age 

1958, although with Beppe's violin scene omitted; 
occasion will be found to refer to this later. 

Despite critics' hopes for Mascagni's / Rantzau, the 
opera failed to please, and the public would have none 
of it. 

In case I have been less than just to some of those 
newspaper critics who were required to fill large 
spaces with reviews of operas which had evidently 
perplexed them, I would like to make some amends 
by quoting an excerpt from the Sunday Times on the 
production of Mascagni's UAmico Fritz in the autumn 
season following its premtire in the summer, because I 
think it a model of what operatic criticism might be. 

"Undoubtedly the music of VAmco Fritz 
grows on the listener. Hearing it at Covent Gar- 
den after an interval of nearly six months, it 
seems to us, even more than at first, immeasure- 
ably stronger in charm and real power than the 
composer's earlier opera. Comparison apart, 
however, we admire it because it is beautiful, 
and because it gives fitting expression to a wholly 
delightful poetic idea. Mascagni's music is not, 
we know, original in the highest sense of the 
term, but it possesses what is perhaps the next 
best thing an individuality which makes itself 
felt, now in a certain tourwre de phrase, and now in 
a characteristic treatment of melodies or har- 
monies, lending colour and force in the right 
manner at the right moment. The more we hear 
Mascagni the more readily we recognise his 
peculiar touches and feel their influence as 
indicating independence of thought and style. 
Surely the young musician who has this power, in 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

addition to the more easily acquired attributes of 
his art, and who has already signed his name to 
such works as Cavalleria Rusticana and UAmico 
Fritz, must one day give the world an epoch- 
making masterpiece. The surmise is strengthened 
by the success that has just attended the produc- 
tion of I Rantzau. If that opera constitutes the 
big step in advance that it is said to do, the real 
chef d* &uvre of Pietro Mascagni will ere long be 
within measureable distance." 

Bemberg's Elaine was given a premtire, with a cast 
of Melba, Deschamps, the de Reszkes and Plangon, 
but this was more of a social event, for Bemberg was 
a popular figure, and as an amateur composer he 
wrote a number of charming and well-contrived 
songs, which were sung regularly by Melba even up 
to the time of her retirement. Elaine had a certain 
degree of success, and was repeated two seasons later 
with practically the same cast. Neither did de Lara's 
novelty La Luce dell* Asia reveal any unsuspected 
power. Its composer possessed an undeniable facility, 
but probably lacked application. 

Philhnon et Bauds, which had a favourable recep- 
tion in the preceding autumn, served to re-introduce 
Sigrid Arnoldson, with Plangon as Jupiter and 
Gasdemary as Vulcan. This was given as an adjunct 
to Cavalleria, but the boxes and stalls did not begin to 
fill until after the interval. It was given 12 times, to 
Cavalleria^ 13. Orfeo dropped suddenly to two per- 
formances, despite the Ravoglis. 

The Ring was put on for the first time at Govent 
Garden, with a second cycle at Drury Lane. The tenor, 
Max Alvary, who seemed very much to rule the 


The Golden Age 

Wagnerian roost, ordained that, as he wished to make 
his first London appearance in the role of Siegfried, 
the Ring should start from that point; and so it was 
done, the other parts following in their proper order. 
Alvary was a striking-looking figure, and a fine actor, 
but his singing was of another order. "The deplorable 
diseuse", a disgruntled critic described him, probably 
correctly, and this inartistic incident may well have 
started the train of murmuring that Jean de Reszke 
should undertake the heroic Wagner roles and ensure 
artistic treatment. Newcomers to the Ring., besides 
Alvary, included Ende-Andriessen, Bettaque, Schu- 
mann-Brink, Grehagg (Wotan), and Klafsky all 
very famous singers. Sucher, Reichmann and Wiegand 
were among the principals who had been heard in 
previous German seasons. The conductor was the 
illustrious Doctor Mahler, who was to become so 
great a power in Viennese musical circles. His 
reputation in Europe remains very high, although in 
England we have been slower to accept him. Later 
on, we may turn to him with shamefaced gratitude. 

As we have already seen, Harris used Drury Lane 
to take the overflow from Covent Garden, and the 
following were the operas performed there: 

Fidelia (i) ; Nydia (i) ; Philemon et Baucis (3) ; V Arnica 
Fritz (i); Cavalleria (4); Don Giovanni (i); Trompeter 
von Sakkingen (Nessler) (2); Tristan (2), and one cycle 
of the Ring. 

Der Trompeter von Sakkingen was given with Senger- 
Bettaque and Theodore Reichmann in the leading 

Jean de Reszke seemed to be getting tired of singing 
the unrewarding role of Faust and who shall blame 
hiTn although a first-class tenor is so essential to cope 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

with the awkward tessitura of his music. In the pre- 
vious year he sang it once only, and this season not at 
all. In fact he sang only six times throughout the 
season. The short reference in Clara Leiser's Jean 
de Reszfa may be inaccurate, for the author states that 
Jean sang ten times, with four performances of 
Lohengrin; whereas, although it was given five times 
and not four, Jean sang in two of these only, van 
Dyck and Montariol dividing the remaining three 
between them. I can only find that he sang once in 
the four performances of Elaine, but it is possible that 
there was another appearance. Miss Leiser may have 
obtained her details from Klein's analysis of the 
season as printed in the Sunday Times, in which case 
the error would have been Klein's. Last-minute 
changes in performance often create confusion. 

Jean sang once in Carmen with Deschamps, Eames, 
and Lassalle, but he disappeared precipitately before 
the end of the season, leaving a crop of rumours be- 
hind him as to why and wherefore, but it is likely 
enough that poor health, brought about by overwork 
in America, combined perhaps with too much Ameri- 
can hospitality, would provide a simpler solution than 
some of them. An explanation which does not seem 
to have been put forward is that Jean could have fled 
in order to escape from another performance of 
Elaine, which he had sung once only. 

Harris also put on an autumn season at Govent 
Garden in 1892. Melba sang the roles of Aida and 
Desdemona for the first time in London, and although, 
probably under advice, she did not continue as Aida, 
her performance was so fine as to excite the highest 
admiration, for she threw aside her usual reserve to 
sing with passionate emotion, and easily dominated 

The Golden Age 

the great ensemble in the second act, without apparent 
effort or loss of quality. As Desdemona, however, she 
continued, to the very day of her act of farewell to 
Govent Garden in 1924, to be the one and unap- 
proachable with some reservations in favour of 
Eames. Here also she showed that she could act 
when the occasion demanded it, and generally speak- 
ing the easy way in which Melba was dismissed as a 
bad actress is nonsense. 

The principal tenor was Francesco Giannini, who 
sang Faust, Otello and Radames with Melba, and 
Turridu in Cavalleria. Dufiiche notably advanced, 
singing several major roles. 

The Ravogli sisters continued to delight the public, 
Giulia singing Carmen, sharing the role with de 
Lussan, and Ortruda to Melba's Elsa. Both inter- 
pretations were accepted, as nothing she could do was 
wrong in the eyes of die critics. Orfeo this season soared 
to 15 performances, which taken by itself seems a 
large number, but when we find that Cavalleria had 
26 always needing a stable companion it seems too 
few. (On three dates two acts from Balfe's Bohemian 
Girl were played before Caoalleria, with a cast drawn 
from the Carl Rosa Company.) Santuzza was sung 
19 times by Mme del Torre, four times by Mme 
Sala and three by Esther PalHser, a young English 
soprano who had been placed in Sullivan's Ivanhoe by 
her teacher Mathilda Marches!; she also sang as 
Micaela with de Lussan, and in so different a role as 
Brangane in Tristan, with Cramer, Oberlander and 
Bispham, whose appearances up to that time had been 
tentative, but who was to take a prominent place 
before long. 

A feature in this season was the reappearance of 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Emma Nevada as Rosina in // Barbiere^ which she had 
played innumerable times in other lands; and special 
extra performances had to be arranged to satisfy the 
demands of those who wished to hear her interpola- 
tions in the lesson scene. 

It was at this time that Z61ie de Lussan hlad the 
honour of a Command to Balmoral to sing The 
Daughter of the Regiment in English with the Carl 
Rosa Company, and barely a week later the Queen, 
who had been delighted by her performance, expressed 
a wish to hear her in Carmen. Accordingly the entire 
Covent Garden production was taken to Windsor, 
where the Queen then was, and the opera was per- 
formed in the Waterloo Chamber before a very 
distinguished gathering. Cremonrni was the Don 
Jos, Dufriche the Escamillo and Palliser the Micaela. 
At another time the same honour was paid to the 
favoured artist by a Command for Fra Diavolo, and in 
addition de Lussan was bidden five times to Bucking- 
ham Palace to sing in State concerts. On the less 
formal occasions (i.e. the operas), as Mme de Lussan 
has related, the kindness of the Queen and her solici- 
tude for the comfort of her guests left very delightful 

Harris's autumn season, like his last, was organised 
for the purpose of spoiling a further effort by the luck- 
less Lago, who now opened at the Olympic Theatre. 
It was his last exploit in opera management, and, as 
usual, he deserved better luck than fortune gave him; 
but he staked the greater part of his slender resources 
in trying to repeat the success of Cavalleria Rusticana 
with Tchaikovsky's unpromising Eugene Opegin, and 


The Golden Age 

doubtless the wily Harris hoped as sincerely as Lago 
that he would do so. He engaged the admirable bari- 
tone Eugene Oudin, who had made a great reputation 
in the title role of Sullivan's Ivanhoe, and with him 
were Fanny Moody and Charles Manners. His hopes 
were not fulfilled, for the opera was (as is generally 
the case) found dull and insipid, despite some musi- 
cianly pages, for, as with Wertker and Le Demon, 
audiences in London declined to interest themselves 
in a work which depended for its dramatic content 
upon a *hero' so deplorable as this Eugene Onegin, 
and not even Battistini, when partnered by Destmn 
14 years later, succeeded in convincing them of error. 
Arditi ascribed the failure to lack of funds to tide 
over the initial indifference. 

As usual, however, Lago made a discovery of prime 
importance, which was fully and rightly exploited in 
due course by Harris, in the baritone Mario Ancona, 
who was at once acclaimed, even in this confused and 
ill-publicised season. His debut was in La Favorita, 
which he followed with a triple bill containing the 
third act of Ernani y and as Tdramundo in Lohengrin. 
Ancona had a fine and steady voice of rolling and 
sonorous quality; he had great versatility, and was one 
of the most satisfying singers to carry on the traditions 
of the nineteenth century. Although he was not actu- 
ally the creator of the role of Tonio in Pagliacci, he 
appropriated it and made it his own, and in his famous 
partnership with de Lucia he was instrumental in 
securing that opera's triumph both in England and 

It is difficult to piece together this chaotic season 
with any accuracy, but Albarti sang as Elsa; and 
Mozart's U Impresario, a new work by Bantock called 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Caedmar, and Wallace's Montana were put on. An 
interesting detail was the debut as a conductor of 
Henry J. Wood, who assisted Arditi, with Mascheroni 
conducting Montana, and Bantock his own work. 

The most distinguished newcomer in 1893 was the 
tenor Albert Alvarez, unless we include Ancona, who 
had sung in the Lago season of the previous autumn. 
Alvarez was a tenore robusto with a very pleasant pre- 
sence and a voice of great quality, and a most valuable 
addition to the company. Little was needed, however, 
in the way of fresh attraction to ensure the season's 
success, for there was a large muster of old and new 
favourites, and the opera was buzzing with vitality 
as never before. Society was serene, and the public 
were glad to follow their lead ; the artists were enjoying 
a heyday of success, the Press was purring with plea- 
sure, and Harris was basking in the sunshine of royal 

The number of untried works that were put into 
the bill may be taken as a sign of the prosperity of the 
enterprise rather than of any musical acumen by 
Harris, who was an outstandingly bad judge, although 
a good adnpunistrator. These included Amy Robsart 
another full-scale work by Isidor de Lara and, al- 
though sung by Calve, Alvarez and Lassalle, it failed 
to attract. The same must be recorded of Bizet's 
Djamtieh, Mascagni's / Raritzau, Stanford's The Veiled 
Prophet, and Emil Bach's Irmengarda. 

These several failures were more than compensated 


The Golden Age 

for by the instant success of Leoncavallo's / Pagliacci, 
which was produced at Covent Garden shortly after 
its world premiere at Milan, when it was sung by 
Adelina Stehle as Nedda, Giraud as Ganio and Maurel 
as Tonio. In London the roles in this famous opera 
were taken by Melba, de Lucia, Ancona, and Richard 
Green as Silvio the last-named making his debut in 
Grand Opera. If Harris may be given credit for this 
enterprise, we may take back everything we have said 
about his judgment, for the work was a 'winner' 
from the start, and has remained so to this day. Long 
after Cavalleria Ritsticana which was to be its stable 
companion for a generation had fallen into unde- 
served disrepute on account of the inferiority of the 
provincial performances to which it was condemned, 
Pagliacci was hailed as a little masterpiece, a melo- 
drama in miniature, a gem of vocal writing, and an 
orchestral score of charming delicacy; so long as it 
is worthily performed, so long will these most correct 
views be held by the musical cognoscenti. But never 
since its London and American premieres has it been 
quite so well done, except possibly when, in 1905, with 
Lucia and Ancona, and Angdini-Fornari as Silvio, I 
heard it in its glory. Mdba in 1893 was a young and 
most attractive woman, and her Nedda must have 
been delightful. Caruso and Scotti had a big vogue 
in Pagliacci, with Destinn a superb Nedda, but they 
were below de Lucia and Ancona. Zenatello and 
Sammarco sang it finely, but again something was 
missing; and when it passed through a phase of being 
a kind of shouting match it stood in deadly peril of 
becoming ridiculous. The latest idea of presenting 
Pagliacci has been to 'throw away* the first act, under- 
staged, under-sung, under-costumed and under-acted, 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

and then to put everything into a second act of 
unusual brilliance. However, there were no oddities 
in the original conception, and de Lucia's delicate 
art was seen at its best and most perfect. In his big 
scenes he did not rage and storm, being more overcome 
with grief; his singing never lost its silvery quality or 
the perfect melodic line. His special and very per- 
sonal vocal qualities died with him, and there has 
never been another like him. After witnessing a 
cavalcade of Canios, I find that de Lucia's stands 
supreme for the unforced pathos of his acting, and the 
sheer beauty of his singing. 

As with Canio, so has Tonio suffered change. 
Ancona showed us the unsubtle, bucolic and rather 
middle-aged clown whose failure with the young and 
lovely Nedda was a foregone conclusion. His singing 
of the prologue was massive to the edge of ponderous- 
ness, as befitted the character. Scotti did not materially 
change the conception, although a high polish was 
applied to everything he did. Bispham sang the 
Prologue in dress clothes: but it was Sammarco in 
1905 who experimented with a Tonio of a more youth- 
ful but somewhat sinister type, delivering the prologue 
with insolence, ease and buoyancy. 

Vignas now took the role of Turridu in Cavalleria 
from de Lucia, and repeated the great success he won 
in Lago's season at the Shaftesbury Theatre. In ad- 
dition, he sang Lohengrin in five out of the six perform- 
ances, and Tarwkauser three times. He was an excellent 
tenor, with a purely Italian voice and method. These 
two operas, with The Flying Dutchman and Die Meister- 
singer, still belonged to the Italian repertory, while 
Tristan, Die Walk&re and Siegfried were given in Ger- 
man by German or quasi-German singers. 

The Golden Age 

Jean de Reszke sang Faust twice this season, Melba 
and Nordica being his Marguerites, and Plangon 
sharing Mephisto with Edouard. He sang 1 1 times in 
all, with four Romeos, to two by Alvarez with 
Melba singing in the six performances and twice in 
the Huguenots. 

Calve's promised debut in the role of Carmen was 
postponed through her indisposition, but the per- 
formance took place with Arnoldson bravely singing 
in Calv6's place an occasion which calls for no 
comment and interest was centred in Alvarez, whose 
London debut it was. In the subsequent six per- 
formances Arnoldson was charming as Micaela, and 
.Ghasne, a new French baritone, shared Escamillo 
with Lassalle. So great was Calve's success that for 
ever afterwards the names of Galv6 and Carmen came 
to mean almost the same thing, which did some in- 
justice to both, for Calv6 was a versatile singer. She 
was a distinguished Marguerite, and she sang in Les 
PScheurs des Perles with de Lucia and Ancona. Incident- 
ally, a performance of Mefistofele was announced for 
June 1 6 with Calve, de Lucia, Ravogli and Plangon, 
but did not take place. 

In a role so rich in opportunity as that of Carmen 
it is no wonder that it should have made great reputa- 
tions for some; thus, in Minnie Hauk, Trebdli, Lucca, 
de Lussan, Deschamps, Bdlincioni, Calve, and later 
Bressler-Gianoli and Maria Gay, we have a wide 
choice of interpretations, any of which might have 
been supreme if left unchallenged. Of those who 
notably failed in the part, Patti was the first, followed 
by Nordica, and later by Destiim-^reat artists who 
might have succeeded. I leave out of account the 
stricken field of lesser singers. 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Melba opened the season with Lohengrin, but pleaded 
illness when the next performance became due. It 
was the last time that she sang in this opera on the 
London stage. 

UAmico Fritz had a single performance with Calve 
and de Lucia, which was interesting for the intro- 
duction of the young Pauline Joran in the role of 
Beppe, in which she made the charming innovation of 
playing her own violin serenade. She soon left the 
stage to become the Baroness de Bushe, and died 
much lamented in our own decade. 

In the German operas, Moran-Olden sang Isolde 
with Alvary as Tristan, and Bispham came into 
greater prominence as KurvenaL- He was a fine and 
unusually intelligent artist, and all his interpretations 
were striking: in this season he sang Wotan in the 
Walkure and Siegfried, and despite his lack of inches 
gave good renderings. 


In Harris's next season, with Puccini's Manon 
Lescaut indifferently produced (or its new idiom not 
understood), and Massenet's Werther a deserved 
failure, the London premiere of Verdi's Falstaff stands 
out as an event of first-rate importance. Maurel, the 
creator of the role and the composer's choice, was not 
present, and the Falstaff was Pessina, a fine actor and 
singer. Also in the cast were Giulia Ravogli, who 
easily took the rich opportunities offered by the role 
of Quickly, de Lucia, Pini-Corsi and Arimondi. This 
somewhat baffling opera was the swan-song of Verdi's 

The Golden Age 

old age, and opera-goers have therefore felt it in- 
cumbent upon them to profess enjoyment at hearing it. 
Of their admiration there can be no doubt, for the 
work is one of pure genius and incredible youthful- 
ness; but the extent of enjoyment must depend upon 
the definition of one's terms. Its career has been 
erratic, and its first London season was its most suc- 
cessful. Maurel, when he sang the role in a later 
season, did little to recommend it to English audiences, 
for his study was a caricature. It is said that Scotti 
presented the finest Falstaff by English standards, and 
in later years it became possible to produce it only if 
Stabile were available. 

Manon Lescaut, which opened the season an opera 
certainly to be heard once served to introduce to 
London two artists of real merit in Antonio Pini- 
Corsi and Vittorio Arimondi. Pini-Corsi was a buffo 
baritone and a worthy successor to Ciampi. He had a 
high degree of polish and was an excellent musician. 
He had a true and keen sense of comedy, eschewing 
the conventional gambits, and was truly a host in 

Arimondi was as large as Pini-Corsi 'was diminu- 
tive, and his beautiful bass was as big as himself. He 
sang with an easy grace, and, where opportunity 
offered, as in the Don Basilio of the Barbiere, his comedy 
was superb. London at this time was fortunate in its 
three fine basses, Edouard de Reszke, Plangon and 
Arimondi, although, in the nature of things, Arimondi 
did not get the plums as yet. 

Charles Gilibert, who became a regular feature of 
the opera for the following 25 years, was seen in this 
season for the first time; but it was not until the 
occasion of the London premiere of Charpentier's fine 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Louise in 1909 and not long before his death (1910) that 
he was to show the full extent of the dramatic and vocal 
power, which he had for too long concealed in buffo 
and less important parts. 

The mezzo, Rosa Olitzka, who became a popular 
figure in London, sang Urbano in Les Huguenots and in 
the two performances of Elaine, in which Melba, the 
two de Reszkes and Plangon also appeared. 

Joseph O'Mara, the very distinguished Irish tenor, 
who was to become one of the strongest pillars of opera 
in English, made his Govent Garden debut as the 
apprentice in Die Meister singer: and Mile Delna, a 
prominent contralto, came from Paris to take the lead 
in Bruneau's UAttaque du Moulin, with Cossira and 
Albers, another excellent new arrival and Bouvet, 
who had made a good impression in the last autumn 
season. Besides Bouvet, Mile Simmonet sang several 
times, taking Micaela in five of the six Garmens, in 
which Alvarez and Cossira sang Don Jos 6, and Albers 
the bullfighter. Simmonet also sang one Marguerite, 
divided four performances of Philemon et Baucis with 
Amoldson, and took the Queen in the single and less 
than usually distinguished performance of Les Hugue- 
nots. Emma Eames sang the Eva, and took part in a 
performance of The Lady of Longford by Emil Bach; 
Alvarez and Edouard de Reszke also doubtless did 
all they could for it. 

Another of these attempts to bring forward other 
composers to operatic fame was Cowan's Signa, sung 
by Nuovina, Ben Davies, Ancona and Castelmary; 
it had four performances and that, as with The Lady 
of Longford, was all. The quantity of first-class talent 
that was expended upon untried material is indeed 
remarkable nor was it for the last time. 


The Golden Age 

The dismal story of how Harris was persuaded by 
Jean de Reszke to put on Massenet's Werther has often 
been told. It had an unqualified and double success 
in the United States with Jean in the title role, and 
Jean evidently believed that his performance alone 
would ensure the opera's success. ,He accordingly 
made his reappearance in that work in this season. 
The result was wholly disastrous, and the whole thing 
was practically unanimously condemned in the 
strongest terms by the critics: the exception being, as 
might have been expected, Bernard Shaw. For its 
immediate withdrawal Clara Leiser offers her readers 
the choice of two theories; one that the bookings for a 
second performance were nil, another that it was 
following representations made to Harris on behalf 
of "an exalted quarter 53 . Eames and Arnoldson sang 
the miserable parts allotted to them > and Albers and 
Gastelmary brought up the rear. In addition Jean 
sang in two Fausts, seven Romeos, four Lokengrins, one 
Meistersinger and two Elaines. Of the women, Melba, 
Eames and Calve easily led the large field. 

It was at this time that the critic Shaw was exerting 
himself to convince the public that it was the duty of 
the de Reszkes to abandon the French and Italian 
works in favour of the German. He did not consider 
that the Italian versions hitherto sung by them con- 
stituted true German opera. He was himself an ardent, 
not to say fanatical Wagnerite, and he argued that as 
only the best was good enough for Wagner, it followed 
that Jean and Edouard by common consent the best 
singers of their day should become fully fledged 
Wagner singers, singing in the German language. 
No doubt Shaw was thoroughly tired of Alvary, who 
was monopolising the tenor roles, and thought that, as 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

both the de Reszkes were vocally inexhaustible, the 
remedy was ready to hand. Without delving further 
into controversy, it may be sufficient to state that the 
brothers did bow to the clamour started by Shaw and 
his Wagnerites, that within three years Jean's voice 
was irreparably injured (as is evident from his con- 
stant failures to appear, and his often poor singing 
when he did) and that in a further three years he was 
finished. This sequence of cause and effect will not 
find universal acceptance, but the main facts seem to 
speak for themselves. 

In this season the German performances of the 
German works were confined to Drury Lane an 
ideal arrangement when the management controls 
two opera houses with the famous Frau Klafsky in 
all the leading roles, the works being Die Walkiire, 
Siegfried, Tannhauser, Tristan, Lohengrin, Fidelio and 
Der Freischutz. The conductors were Feld and Lohse, 
the latter of whom was to become Klafsk/s husband, 
and a regular conductor of Wagner at Govent Gar- 
den. The principals were the same throughout i.e. 
Alvary, Bispham and Wiegand: Gherlson singing 
Sieglinde and Venus, and Olitzka taking Fricka, Erda 
and Ortrud. Dufriche sang Telramund. 

It was for this season that the orchestra pit at Covent 
Garden was sunk to its present level out of the sight of 
die audience: and the practice of performing the 
operas in almost full illumination was altered for the 
Ring, in conformity with Wagner's special directions. 

The Golden Age 

Even this departure was regarded with some misgiving, 
but the Ring was the preserve of those whose interest in 
the social side of the opera was of the slightest, and 
Society could not in any case observe the hours re- 
quired. It was not until the twentieth century was a 
few seasons old that darkness and gloom became the 
rule at all performances, after which the gala appear- 
ance of the house progressively declined over the years. 
Modern opera-goers will hardly appreciate how much 
has been lost by this austerity (which in its beginning 
was not due to social deterioration), and how little 
gained, for the slight dimming of the rose-pink lighting 
allowed for ample illumination for the stage, where the 
romantic effect caused by the footlighting another 
lost illumination set up the impalpable curtain which 
separated the stage from the auditorium, imparting 
to the figures a glamour and perspective now totally lost. 
Harris's season was noteworthy for the reappearance 
of Patti, who had been absent from the London stage 
for eight years, and had practically retired from opera. 
In thus engaging Patti, Harris reached the peak of his 
powers as a showman, for the terms exacted for the six 
performances were so severe that the prices of seats 
were increased by 400 per cent. This, however, 
proved to be no deterrent, and the Patti nights were 
among the most brilliant ever known in London. The 
diva sang as matchlessly as ever, and the ever-youth- 
ful figure showed no sign of the passing years. These 
appearances were actually the close of the most dis- 
tinguished operatic career of any age, and in bidding 
our farewell to Patti, we take leave of an epoch as 
well as of a loved and admired artist Her public 
appearances continued at rare intervals on concert 
platforms for a further ten years. 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

In Otello, with which the season opened, Albani 
made a first appearance as Desdemona, and, although 
evidently lacking the youthful appeal of the part, she 
sang to everybody's satisfaction; but Maurel, who 
had been absent for two seasons, did not reappear 
before the season was a month old, and lago was 
taken by Pessina, who was considered less successful 
than as FalstafF. 

Tamagno made his first appearance at Covent 
Garden, and was considered to be even finer than in 
1887 at the Lyceum. If there be any truth in the 
legend that Tamagno caused the great chandelier to 
rattle, this was probably the occasion, although a well- 
known music journalist once assured me that if there was 
any rattling, it was far more likely to have been caused 
by the clinking of glasses in the bar by the critics, who 
were supposedly listening to the performance. 

The absolute supremacy of Tamagno as Otello was 
never challenged except when, in 1908, Zenatello 
memorably gave the first of his innumerable perform- 
ances in the role the five-hundredth was registered 
some years before his retirement and he had the 
voice, the temperament and the sheer acting ability 
for a real Otello. 

Maurers reappearance was as Falstaff an evi- 
dently Verdian rather than a Shakespearean con- 
ception a comment never heard about his lago, in 
which he made only a single appearance in London, 
for in the next production of the work, which was not 
until 1901, the role was taken by Scotti, who retained 
it, not exclusively, at Covent Garden until 1914. 

Melba, after one appearance as Nedda in Pagliacci, 
seemed no longer interested in the role, sharing it 
with Joran, de Lussan and Fanny Moody. De Lucia 


The Golden Age 

and Ancona were, after two performances, replaced 
by Brozel and Pini-Corsi, Bars singing Silvio. 

In Cavalleria, Santuzza was sung four times by 
Gemma Bellincioni, the creator of the role at the world 
premiere. Although this artist was always remarkable, 
her singing was hardly on a level with her acting. Her 
Carmen was admired, nevertheless. In later years she 
was to create the title-role in Giordani's Ftdora 
another part in which her fine acting had full scope. 
Calve sang the remaining two performances, with 
Vignas and Ravogli singing six times, Ancona four 
times and Bispham twice. 

Sembrich, after an absence of no fewer than ten 
years, made one appearance in La Tramata > and two as 
Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Albani being the 
Countess, Maurel the Count, and Ancona Figaro. 
After this, Sembrich was never again heard in London. 
It was Melba who had captured the entire opera- 
going public (without committing the Wagnerites); 
to a considerable extent she had probably begun her 
grip upon the management also, leaving a diminishing 
scope for the more celebrated sopranos. Her 17 
appearances compare with 12 by Albani, seven each 
by Maclntyre and Calve, five by de Lussan, and 
four by Eames, without taking account of the special 
Patti engagement. 

The brothers de Reszke made no appearance this 
season, for the only time before their retirement in 
1900. This odd event revived the usual crop of ru- 
mours, but it is open to us to remark that it was also the 
only season in which Tamagno sang at Covent Garden 
until Jean had finally quitted in 1900. Tamagno re- 
appeared there in 1901. Tamagno's engagement, 
although perhaps overdue, would obviously have 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

caused Jean to think with memories of his somewhat 
lukewarm commendations as Otello to compare with 
Tamagno's historic conception. We are assured by 
Clara Leiser that Jean was not of a jealous nature, 
but on the other hand he had hitherto had no occa- 
sion. Doubtless he did not wish to invite comparisons. 

With de Reszke absent, the tenor roles were in the 
most capable hands of Alvarez, de Lucia, Tamagno 
and Vignas, so there was no real reason for complaint. 

In the final performance in London of Le Prophtte 
(which left only the Huguenots, of Meyerbeer's re- 
splendent works, to survive into the new century) 
Giulia Ravogli added another portrait to her gallery, 
with Tamagno in the title-role. 

The failure of untried operas was almost a routine 
proceeding, despite a competition-winning work (Pe- 
truccio by Alec Maclean) for which the award was 
publicly presented by Mme Patti, but it evoked little 
comment beyond that of The Times, which opined that, 
as there were 43 entrants, it was a gloomy reflection 
for those who had put their faith in native opera that 
there existed 42 other works of even poorer quality! 

The only other novelty, whether native or foreign, 
was Harold by Cowan, to a libretto on the A.D. 1066 
theme, sung by the ever-obliging Albani and the three 
baritones, Bispham, Bars and Richard Green. There 
were three performances. 

Patti's performances were as follows: 

La Tramata (2) with de Lucia and Ancona; 
Don Giovanni (2) with Adini, Maclntyre, Brozel, 
Castelmary and Pini-Gorsi (Leporello), Charles 
Manners, aad Maurel; H Barbiere (2) with 
Bonnard, Ancona, Pini-Corsi and Arimondi. 

The Golden Age 

Other interesting items from the Italian-French 
season were Mejistqfele with Maclntyre, de Lucia and 
Plangon; Massenet's La Navarraise with Calve, and 
Plan9on; Rigoletto with Melba, Ravogli, de Lucia and 
Ancona; Romto with Melba, Alvarez and Plan^on; 
Faust with the same principals, with Albers and 
Maurel singing Valentine; Les Huguenots with Melba, 
Albani, Ravogli, Tamagno, Ancona, Plan$on and 
Castelmary; Tannhduser with Eames, Adini, Alvarez, 
Maurel and Plangon; selections from the programme 
which will offer some idea of the quality of the per- 
formances at this epoch. 

At the same time as the Italian-French season at 
Govent Garden, Hams again gave a short season of 
German opera at Drury Lane. The repertoire con- 
sisted of Fidelia, Der Freischutz, Smetana's Bartered 
Bride, Lortzing's Wildsckiitz, Johann Strauss's Fleder- 
maus, Die Beruhmte Frau and Humperdinck's Hansel 
tmd GreteL The singers were, and have remained, 


The entire operatic scene was changed, in both 
England and America, by the keenly anticipated 
appearance of Jean de Reszke in the role of Tristan, 
in the German language. Thus had Jean bowed to the 
partisan clamour and entered upon the course which 
was to be fatal to him. With this event Jean's career 
may be said to have reached its peak, and the multi- 
tudes of his worshippers, as well as his more sober 
admirers, were beside themselves with delight. No 


The Age of Jean de 

possible doubt had been entertained that when the 
great event took place Jean's triumph was a foregone 
conclusion, and so overwhelming was the consensus 
of opinion that this was duly consummated, that we 
have no legitimate grounds for doubting it. But with- 
out pouring any cold water or in any way spoiling the 
fun, the facts remain that these were early days for 
Tristan. Such of the public as knew anything of the 
work had heard only Alvary (already referred to as 
"the deplorable diseuse"}, or other singers in the un- 
compromising German Sprechgesang, and would have 
welcomed a change; if the change was to be provided 
by Jean de Reszke, all would be well. And no doubt 
it was. Even to this day the dearth of supreme Tristans 
has been lamentable, and I recall one only (Ernest 
van Dyck) among many heard over nearly 40 years, 
who was first-class both as actor and singer. Readers 
will remember that there was more than a shade of 
doubt whether de Reszke's voice was equal to the 
demands of Otello a fax shorter role and Clara 
Leiser has told us that Jean himself, after hearing 
Tristan performed, regretfully concluded that this 
opera was not for him, since his voice lacked the 
power to cope with such an orchestra; but that, on 
hearing SeidTs subdued rendering, he took heart, and 
the New York performance followed. SeidPs inter- 
pretations, like Nikisch's that followed, were the 
authentic Wagner as the composer intended it, but 
these became submerged in the massive renderings 
which made so irresistible an appeal to both conduc- 
tors and public, leaving the unhappy singers to shout 
as best they could. The difficulty is, and must ever 
be, that the role of Tristan is unvocal, and, although a 
truly beautiful one if sung by a truly beautiful voice, the 


The Golden Age 

price it exacts is either a minor rendering, or the extinc- 
tion of the voice generally sooner rather than later. 

Remarkable though it seems, the hysteria following 
de Reszke's triumph has so far blotted out the other 
details of the performance that even his Isolde became 
obscured; but the truth is that a performance of 
hardly less triumph was taking place at the same time, 
for it was none other than Mme Albani who, at short 
notice, was singing the role for the first time a 
thankless occasion enough for her, since it was mani- 
festly Jean de Reszke's night. Bispham gave his 
memorable Kurvenal, and Edouard was Mark. 

Lohengrin also was sung in German for the first time 
by the Govent Garden Company, with the de Reszkes, 
Albaiu, Bispham and Plano;a, as well as id Italian 
with Cremonini, Ancona and ArimondL Lola Beeth 
was the Elsa. Die Meistersinger was sung five times in 
Italian with Jean and Edouard, Eames, Plangon and 
Bispham, and, strangest of all, Die Walkure was given 
in French, with Albers as Wotan, Mantelli as Briinn- 
hilde, Alvarez as Siegmund and Gastelmary as 
Hunding. Mmes Beeth and Brazzi completed this 
curious team, concerning which the less said the better ; 
except that among the Valkyries appeared for the 
first time at Govent Garden the name of Kirkby Lunn, 
who was evidently still in her student days, and whose 
true and memorable debut did not take place until 
after the turn of the century. 

Humperdinck's little masterpiece and work of pure 
genius Hansel und Gretel> which we noticed in passing 
in Harris's German offerings last year, was given three 
performances in the regular programme; and Fra 
Diavolo and La Favorita were heard for the last time. 
De Lucia and Ancona had now cemented their 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

partnership, and sang together in Pagliacci, Traviata, 
Cavalleria and Rigoletto. Melba sang twice in Massenet's 
Manon with Alvarez, also in the Huguenots, Rigoletto^ 
Faust, Lucia and Romio. The absence of Edouard de 
Reszke gave very full opportunity to Plancjon, and 
established him as at least Edouard's equal. 

Emma Albani bade farewell to Govent Garden 
after this season was ended. Not only had she sung 
Isolde for the first time, but Donna Anna as well, also 
Desdemona in the previous year. Of such an art as 
AlbanTs it is difficult to speak today, for her species 
has long been extinct. That she was a singer in 
the grand tradition is beyond dispute or doubt, as 
was the superlative quality of her work in oratorio, 
which she carried on for years more. In the immense 
'Handel Festivals' in the vast spaces of the old 
Grystal Palace, Albani was the leading soprano; her 
appearances on that platform with Lloyd and Santley, 
with the massed choirs and orchestras conducted by 
Sir August Manns, attracted audiences, as Albani has 
written, of 23,000 (this probably included the orchestra 
and chorus, which were said to have accounted for 
5,000). The extraordinary acoustics created a special 
problem for the singers, who never failed to create a 
wonderful effect. 

In June of this season occurred the sudden death of 
Augustus Harris, temporarily leaving the opera 
without its guiding hand. 


The Golden Age 


The management of Covent Garden now passed 
to Maurice Grau, the experienced New York im- 
presario. He was an excellent friend of the de Reszkes, 
and carried on the tradition of the Mecca of opera 
houses by introducing a very distinguished list of 
newcomers, contrasting sharply with the previous 
season in this respect. The Vienna-trained pupil of 
Marches!, Frances Saville, made her London debut, 
and sang Juliette three times, Violetta and Manon; 
and in another of the routine and annual failures she 
sang the title role in Inez Mendo by d'Erlanger. But, 
although reappearing, Saville found difficulty in 
securing her foothold, and drifted, through no fault 
of her own, into work of diminishing importance 
until her withdrawal to a more congenial operatic 

Susan Strong, an American dramatic soprano, 
sang in the four performances of Aida, which were 
said to have been among the finest ever heard: she 
was also the Brunnhilde of Jean de Reszke's first 
London appearance as the younger Siegfried. 

Marcel Journet, whose career was to continue un- 
abated until his death in 1933, was at once recognised 
as a true and notable basso, and his massive and musical 
voice marked him eventually as the successor to 
Plangon, when that great singer ceased to visit Lon- 

Salignac scored a triumph at his debut as Don 
Jos6, for his voice, light and agreeable in timbre, 
never overwhelming in volume, although never lack- 

The Age of Jean de 

ing in effect, was produced with the highest degree of 
taste and refinement. He became a regular visitor for 
several years. 

The baritone Note from the Paris Opera was effec- 
tive rather than polished; and Ceppi, the Radames 
of the excellent Aida performances, was not destined 
for London fame. 

The most significant and important acquisition of 
the season was Maurice Renaud, who made an 
unconventional debut, appearing in the Gala Per- 
formance in celebration of the Queen's Diamond 
Jubilee. The marvellous singer had won the highest 
place that his native France had to offer, having 
succeeded the great Lassalle as leading baritone at the 
Paris Op6ra. Renaud was distinguished for the 
carefulness of his work, and the solemn intensity of 
his style. He had a natural dignity and an unsurpassed 
sense of correctness both in movement and in repose, 
a catlike grace, great power as an actor, and a voice 
and delivery that were representative of the acme of 
classical perfection. 

With this galaxy were all those whom we have 
recently admired in past seasons of this decade, ex- 
cepting, as already noted, Tamagno who evidently 
was uncongenial, if only as a tenor voice, to Jean de 
Reszke, and a loss not only to the audiences, but also 
to his confreres, who greatly liked him for his kind and 
cheerful disposition. 

Of the Wagner repertoire, Die Walkiire was sung by 
Marie Brema as Briinnhilde, Susan Strong as Sieg- 
linde, Schumaxrn-Heiiik as Fricka, with van Dyck, 
Bispham and the new English bass Lemprifcre Pringle. 

Jean de Reszke sang Tristan three times, with 
Sophie Seidlmair as Isolde. Siegfried was given four 


The Golden Age 

times with Jean each time: Seidlmair and Strong 
divided the role of Brunnhilde, with Edouard as 
The Wanderer. Die Meistersinger was given three 
times, with Eames, the two de Reszkes, Plangon and 
Bispham. Although the German language was in- 
creasingly used for these operas, the position was 
still somewhat fluid a mixture of two or more 
languages being not unknown. 

In Le Nozze di Figaro, Emma Eames sang her 
beautifully rendered Countess, and de Lussan her 
Cherubino; as Susanna, Clementine de Vere made 
her debut. With Edouard de Reszke as the Count and 
Ancona as Figaro, wonderful performances were 

Great indeed was the success of the Jubilee Opera 
Season, although the attendances suffered to some 
extent from the many outdoor distractions at the 
time of the festivities, and even Jean de Reszke's 
London debut in the role of Siegfried suffered from 
these causes. As to the degree of success of this famous 
impersonation, opinions differed. In his first appear- 
ance in the part in America Jean had played without 
his moustache (without which he was hardly Jean), 
but his admirers prevailed over aesthetic considera- 
tions, and for the London production it was restored. 
The score was rather heavily cut, which so raised the 
ire of the austere Wagnerites that the excised parts 
had to be restored in order to placate them. These 
cuts themselves point to the probability that Jean was 
acting under some pressure in undertaking the role, 
and the engagement of Andreas Dippel was evidently 
a safeguard against his failure to appear. In fact, 
this eventually was to happen later with disconcert- 
ing frequency when Siegfried was billed, and the 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

resourceful but not very pleasing understudy replaced 
him. Dippel, who years later became manager of the 
Metropolitan Opera, New York, was so fine a musi- 
cian and so acceptable an actor that he could, and 
did, sing any role from Siegfried downwards with or 
without rehearsal as circumstances required. Al- 
though vocally inexhaustible, DippePs voice was not 
pleasing, and his presence on the stage was to be 
taken as a sign that Jean de Reszke was suffering 
from one of his attacks of Siegfrieditis. 

The peak of operatic pageantry was reached in the 
Diamond Jubilee Gala, which consisted of the third 
act ofRomto et Juliette with Melba, Jean and Edouard 
de Reszke, and Planon; the second act of Tann- 
hauser with Eames, van Dyck, Plan<jon and Renaud; 
and the fourth act of Les Huguenots with Maclntyre, 
Alvarez, Renaud and Plangon. 

As a footnote to the comments on the season of 
1897 it may be remarked that the chords accompany- 
ing the recitatives in Le Nozze di Figaro were played by 
Arnold Dolmetsch on a harpsicord of his own con- 


At this season at Covent Garden we may fix the 
point at which Jean de Reszke had risen to a height 
from which he was to rise no higher. Except for the 
Meistersinger, which he still sang in Italian, he was 
thoroughly German in his artistic outlook not even 
in his admired Rom&> did he appear and he was 
wooing a new public. He sang Tristan four times 


The Golden Age 

with Nordica, and once with the newly arrived Mme 
Ternina, about whom it is necessary to say a few 

Ternina, when she arrived in London, was not a be- 
ginner; in fact she was 35, and had made her first 
professional appearance 15 years earlier. She came 
with a great reputation both from the Continent and 
from America, where she had toured with unbounded 
success. Her appearance in London therefore was 
not unheralded, but the magnitude of her triumph 
was something altogether unexpected, and, although 
Jean de Reszke was never singing better, it was for 
Ternina that the audience called and called again. 
I have no need to go to others for eulogies of Ternina's 
Isolde; having witnessed it myself, I find it impossible 
to speak of her except in superlatives, for no such 
artist has been seen on our stage since her own time. 
She was comparable only with Sucher, but altogether 
different, and, although many delineators of Wagner's 
heroines have Lad great gifts, Ternina had the 
greatest one of all the gift of genius. To take her 
Isolde as a pattern, it may be said that Ternina 
combined in her own person the best features of any 
who have followed her, and then added that some- 
thing more which was hers alone. She possessed 
unlimited powers of expressing the most poignant 
emotion, which, with her tall presence and superb 
command of gesture, she displayed bountifully but 
never excessively, and she had the majesty of a goddess 
as well as the pathos of a woman. The voice was 
beautiful and inexhaustible, and not the lapse of more 
than half a century has effaced the memory of its 
complete purity; with such a voice used in conjunc- 
tion with such histrionic gifts, whether in static 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

intensity or in majestic movement, Ternina stands 

Returning in 1900, as we shall see, she created in 
London the role of Fiona Tosca with no less distinc- 
tion than in her Wagnerian interpretations. "No 
other Tosca/ 9 said Puccini, "has ever approached 

We have in this same season to hail Anton van 
Rooy, the greatest Wotan, Sachs, Kurvenal and Van 
der Decken within living memory. Again, nothing 
short of superlatives, however haltingly expressed, 
would do justice to this truly great man. He made his 
London debut in Die Walkiire, and it was at once evident 
that the real Wotan was there when the curtain rose on 
the second act. The voice was of enormous power, 
probably the biggest to challenge Edouard de Reszke 
for sheer weight and volume. But he had far more 
than that, for van Rooy's voice had an organ-like 
quality which rolled forth without effort, with such 
controlled splendour as to seem indeed the voice of a 
god. In his address to Valhalla, his words seemed to 
echo and reverberate among the painted mountains, 
and at his furious entrance in search of Briinnhilde 
one felt something of the Valkyrie's terror. He was 
the mainstay of the Ring in London until he was last 
heard in 1914, and, if his tradition lives, so much the 
better for those who follow him. 

Perhaps even more remarkable, because less ob- 
vious, was van Rooy's striking and dramatic Kur- 
venal, who^ in his hands became a personage of 
engrossing importance: the supercilious arrogance 
of his exchanges with Isolde, his complete devotion to 
Tristan, the rock-like immobility with which he 
watched intently for his master's awakening, and the 

The Golden Age 

kindly gleam when in mock exasperation he sings 
"AKcht dock: in Kareol!" a point always missed by the 
routine Kurvenals singled him out from all others. 

Suzanne Adams, making her London debut on the 
second night of the season as Juliette, became an 
immediate favourite both on and off the stage, for, 
in addition to a voice of a special limpidity and appeal, 
she had a youthful beauty of a rare kind, and an in- 
genuous and appealing manner which won all hearts. 
Besides her Juliette, her Marguerite and Gilda were 
little behind those of Melba, whom she resembled 
vocally. As Micaela, Melba had already scored a 
little triumph, and when Suzanne Adams sang the 
role one could understand how it was done. 

Of the tenor debutants, Salza was the most im- 
pressive. He succeeded Jean de Reszke as Romeo, 
and his physical appearance as a young reincarnation 
of his prototype greatly aided his impersonation. 
Faust and Don Jos 6 naturally came easily to him, and 
he also passed the tests and became established in 

Three cycles of the Ring were given, all conducted 
by Mottl. Marie Brema sang the Briinnhtlde of the 
Walkiire, Ternina and Nordica alternating in Sieg- 
fried aixd Gotterddmmerung. van Dyck sang Siegmund 
and van Rooy the Wotans, Eames and Ternina 
alternating as Sieglinde. The Gdtterddmmenmg of the 
third cycle was perforce cancelled owing to the in- 
disposition of both Ternina and Nordica; and Brema, 
who seems a curious choice even for the relatively low 
tessitura of the Walkiire Briinnhilde, did not sing the 

Jean de Reszke sang the elder Siegfried for the 
first time, but his success must be accounted uncertain, 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

though lie made a fine appearance. In the second 
cycle Dippel replaced him. 

The single performance of Hamlet (the last at 
Govent Garden under syndicate management) was 
sung by Calv6, Pacary, Bonnard, Renaud and Plan- 
on: and it may be remarked that, so boundless 
were the resources of the promoters, that no fewer 
than eight operas were put on for single nights. 
Galv6 and Plangon in Mefistofele would seem to have 
warranted greater interest, or Ternina in a matchless 
Fidelio, although this opera was never much liked. 
La Traviata and H Barbiere, with Melba, were given 
once each, as were Don Giovanni and Aida. 

At Govent Garden, in eight performances of Faust, 
Jean de Reszke sang the title role once, and for the 
last time in London; those opera-goers who were 
unreconciled to his conversion to Wagner, and 
hastened to hear him in a non-Wagnerian role, had 
little encouragement to refute the tales that the 
twilight of the world's greatest tenor had set in. A 
voice acclimatised to Tristan and Siegfried would no 
longer feel at ease in Faust or Romto, and on this 
occasion he was tired and out of sorts. By singing 
Die Meistersinger in German he no doubt considered 
that he had discharged whatever debt he owed to 
Wagner, although he never sang at Bayreuth. He 
steadily declined to sing in Germany despite tempting 
offers to do so; and it was hinted that the most potent 
forms of persuasion were used to influence him 


The Golden Age 

towards this decision. We may imagine something of the 
regrets of Jean's faithful followers when Alvarez, 
Saleza and Salignac were carrying off the laurels 
which hitherto had been his alone, but by this time 
he was 49, his girth was increasing and his breath was 
getting short for feats of fine phrasing in the Italian 
manner. At all events he had yielded to the prevailing 
trend, which was to increase in its virulence until 
Italian opera, which has so far carried us through 
this survey, was to be anathema in the ears of the 
adherents of the New Music, and to remain so for a 
generation. Jean had at least secured himself against 
any self-reproach for failure to use his gifts in what was 
then considered the right and proper manner, al- 
though he may genuinely have wished to shine in the 
later Wagner, in spite of his expressed opinion that 
such music was not for him. 

Of the two important premieres, Puccini's La Bo- 
hhne was made of more enduring material than was de 
Lara's Messaline, although its start was hardly more 
promising. La Boheme was first heard in this country 
in Manchester, sung by the Carl Rosa Company, 
with the American-born British singer Alice Esty 
singing Mimi with Philip Guimingham and William 
Paull, and, if it failed to excite much interest, the 
explanation lay in the circumstances. Melba had 
created the role in New York, where again the 
critics had failed to appreciate the work; but it was 
she who persuaded the powers at Govent Garden, 
against their own judgment, to produce it in this 
season, which they did with such a cast that failure 
would be out of the question. Z$ie de Lussan, who 
had sung Musetta in New York, was again cast for the 
role, with de Lucia, Ancona, Gilibert and Journet. 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

The role of Mimi was one of Melba's greatest successes, 
and provides an instance when it may be said with 
literal truth that she made it her own. Admittedly 
Mimi is not vocally difficult, but no one has ever sung 
the role in such a way as to evoke an exclamation, 
"That might have been Melba!" and on no other 
role did Melba so unmistakably leave the clear im- 
pression of herself. The opera was given four times, 
and was soon to become one of the famous Melba- 
Caruso-Scotti operas which "drew all London" to 
Govent Garden. 

Of very different material was Isidore de Lara's 
Messalim, with Mile Heglon as the picturesque 
heroine and Alvarez in the role in which Govent 
Garden later heard Tamagno. The mise-en-sdrw was 
gorgeous and the music full of colour with plenty of 
melody and brass. It certainly contained the ele- 
ments of success, and its composer thought very well 
of it. Heglon sang well and looked beautiful, and 
Renaud had some fine passages. The opera was re- 
vived in 1901 with Galve and Tamagno, but its 
Continental success was never repeated in London, 
although worse works have succeeded better. 

Among the newcomers Febea Strakosch, Felia 
Litvinne, Joanna Gadski and Lucienne Breval were 
the most successful, either then or thereafter. Lit- 
vinne was a kinswoman to the de Reszke family; the 
critics were unkind to her a circumstance which 
recalls their rejection of Josephine de Reszke in 1881 
and in both instances they were wrong. She made her 
debut at Govent Garden singing Isolde with Jean's 
Tristan, and the pair of them created a sensation by 
the fervour and realism in the duet in the second act, 
using, on Tristan's entrance, merely the sketchiest 


The Golden Age 

version of words and music as, in a close embrace, 
they descended the stage in transports of gladness. 
Schumann-Heink was Brangane, Edouard was Mark, 
and van Rooy sang his noble Kurvenal. In other 
performances after two with this casting, Nordica 
and Lilli Lehmann, returning after 12 years, sang 
Isolde, Olitzka sang Brangane, Bispham the Kur- 
venal and Pringle the King. 

Strakosch sang Marguerite three times in the eight 
Fausts, Suzanne Adams three times and Melba twice. 
Jean, as we have seen, sang once, Saleza six times, 
and Alvarez once. Valentine was apportioned between 
Albers, Sempe, Renaud and Ancona, and Plangon 
sang six times to Edouard's twice. 

Strakosch paid for her footing by taking part in the 
annual fiasco, this time Ero e Leandro not by Botte- 
sini, but by Mancinelli, the Covent Garden conductor. 
Louise Homer, Saleza and Plangon supported her. 
She sang also in Cavalleria and three times in Lahen- 
grin, in which opera Dippd also made two appear- 
ances; Ortrud being magnificently portrayed in turn 
by Schumann-Heink, Brema and Lehmann. 

The entry of Antonio Scotti seems to give our 
history a sudden forward impulse, for he was essen- 
tially a singer of the Edwardian decade, and became 
one of the most popular of artists. There was every 
reason for his popularity, for he was of a pleasant and 
distinguished appearance, tall and weU-formed, with 
the air and courtesy of the grand seigneur, and always 
dressed to perfection by his Saville Row tailor. His 
baritone was wide in range and of a mellow timbre, in 
character not unlike that of an old Italian violon- 
cello, and as an actor he was excellent. With two 
such Don Giovannis as Scotti and Renaud, the virtual 



The Age of Jean de Reszke 

retirement of Maurel was of less moment than might 
have been expected (Maurel was at this time experi- 
menting with the dramatic stage). Scotti was said to 
have had a better opinion of his own dramatic 
abilities than of his voice, and certainly those who 
saw how he handled the generally thankless role of the 
Consul in Madama Butterfly, and the next week, 
perhaps, recollect his Scarpia in La Tosca, will agree 
that he was a very fine actor indeed. He made his 
London debut as Amonasro, and in that part he was 
one of its finest exponents. Whether as the Gomte 
de Nevers, as Marcel in La Boheme, Escamillo, Tonio, 
or in Leoni's lurid little music-drama UOracolo (in 
which he made his farewell in New York) Scotti was 
always exactly right. He could sing anything at any 
time, and always well. 

After being out of the bill for two seasons, Pag- 
liacci returned with Bessie Macdonald and Suzanne 
Adams sharing Nedda, and de Lucia and Ancona as 
before. Adams also sang the Queen in Les Huguenots, 
looking very lovely, with litvinne and Breval as 
Valentina, and Olitzka as the Page. Romio et Juliette 
was especially well done this season with both Melba 
and Adams as Juliette, Sal6za and Alvarez as Rom 60, 
and a noble string of basses in Edouard de Reszke, 
Planon and Journet. 

Salignac was among the few tenors to make a 
presentable Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, which he 
sang with Lehmann, Nordica and de Lussan, with 
Scotti and Renaud alternating as the Don Scotti 
also playing his first Rigoletto, which was to become 
another of the famous opera nights. 

Norma was revived for T,i'1Ti Lehmann, with Giulia 
Ravogli, of whom we shall not hear again. Her 

The Golden Age 

sister Sophia was no longer with her (in all prob- 
ability married), and Giulia, like so many opera 
singers, took to oratorio in England, where she was as 
much admired as at the opera, having been trained 
for this work by Charles Sandey. Klein speaks of her 
with affection, and she must have been a quite de- 
lightful woman. 

Jean de Reszke in this, his last season at Govent 
Garden, was down to sing three times in Rmto et 
Juliette, twice in Die Meistersinger and once in Lohengrin. 
Clara Leiser says five times in all, so if as is likely- 
she is right, one of the above announced appearances 
was evidently a disappointment. By this date Jean's 
failures to appear were the talk of musical London, 
and when he did appear it was waggishly said that 
nobody cared to offer an opinion on his singing until 
hearing somebody else's. It was freely being said that 
he was out of health, and there can be no doubt that 
his singing was inferior although the point is stressed 
by his biographer that the inferioity was only relative 
to his own best, and that even his worst performance 
would have been a triumph for any other tenor. Well, 
not having been present, we cannot comment. His 
last appearance in London was in Romto with Melba 
on July 13; in a previous performance of that opera 
he had broken down. Every variety of illness was 
conferred upon him by the Press, except the most 
probable cause of his undoubtedly poor state a 
voice hopelessly over-strained by misuse in Wagnerian 

TTie Age of Jean de Reszke 

operas. His retirement was being freely predicted, 
but no announcement was made; accordingly there 
was nothing in the nature of a 'farewell*. Had such a 
ceremony taken place Jean would have had a full 
acknowledgment of the public affection for him 
without any enactment of the unedifying scenes 
which marred his farewell tour elsewhere. 

The only event calling for special notice was the 
production of Puccini's La Tosca; with La Bohfane not 
yet properly assimilated, the critics found the short 
and fleeting phrases baffling, while the orchestral web 
of sound had not penetrated. At this date La Tosca was 
known to the cognoscenti as a melodrama by Victorien 
Sardou, in which Sarah Bernhardt was achieving one 
of her regular triumphs, and the only angle from which 
the opera could be judged was whether the drama had 
received adequate and effective musical treatment; 
it is not altogether certain that the question has ever 
been answered. Of Ternina's wonderful Tosca we 
have already briefly spoken; but of de Lucia's render- 
ing of Cavaradossi special notice may be taken that 
in his soliloquy on the strange harmony of contrasts 
he addressed his remarks to the picture he was paint- 
ing, and, while painting it, sang in the quiet re- 
flective way in which the scene requires. Can any other 
tenor be recalled who has had the courage to do this, 
and avoid the urge to turn his back on his work and 
address the audience ? 

Edyth Walker, then a contralto, who received her 
training in Vienna, and was to become a truly great 
dramatic soprano, made her London debut as Am- 
neris in Aida, singing also four times as Ortrud in 
Lfihtngrin, and as Urbano in the two performances of 
Les Huguenots in which Suzanne Adams and Lalla 


The Golden Age 

Miranda sang the Queen, with Lucille Hill, another 
newcomer, sharing Valentina with Maclntyre. 

The best of the debutants was Alessandro Bond, 
who, like Scotti, arrived to carry on the nineteenth 
century into the twentieth, which he did with the 
almost disarming ease with which he sang. Bond was 
a tenor of absolute purity of voice and style, using the 
open-throated method with a degree of breath con- 
trol which was amazing. He seemed to have solved 
the entire problem of voice production, leaving the 
uninitiated listener with the impression that there was 
no problem to solve, and he took the high D with the 
utmost ease. 

Ernst Kraus relieved the management of any 
anxiety about who should sing Siegfried, as this 
immense and most vital singer was inexhaustible, and 
probably the best Siegfried yet seen or heard. In 
later times he became famous for his shocking study 
of human degeneracy as Herod in Strauss's Salomt- 

Ternina returned to open with Elizabeth in Tann- 
h&user, to which again she gave that touch of genius 
which made the role one of her finest. In the Ring 
Ternina and van Rooy sang with immense distinction, 
with the newcomer Gulbranson making single appear- 
ances as each of the Briinnhildes. Slezak also sang, 
but, although never much liked in London, he must 
not be too summarily dismissed. He sang also in the 
title role of Lohengrin and in Tannhauser; he had plenty 
of voice and vigour, but little polish, despite his 
tendency in later years towards German lieder singing. 

The delightful Mile Fritzi Scheff made her London 
debut, singing Nedda and Musetta, and Marcellinain 
Fidelio. She may be considered the first of a succession 
of three young singers who were especially bright in 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

such light roles, each appearing as the vacancy 
occurred: Elizabeth Parkina and Emma Trentini 
being Fritzi SchefFs successors. 

The tale was told of how at the moment of Mus- 
etta's B natural in her Waltz Song, when Mimi has a 
quaver rest, Melba out of sheer mischief sang the note 
as well, and the scene backstage afterwards, when 
Fritzi expressed the extremity of displeasure, must 
have fulfilled Mdba's wildest hopes. 

Fritzi Scheff also sang Zerlina in Don Giovanni, de 
Lucia taking Ottavio, Susan Strong Anna, Mac- 
Intyre and de Vere sharing Elvira, with Scotti, 
Edouard and Journet. 

The conductors, Bevignani having departed, were 
Mancinelli in charge of the Italian works, and Flon 
of the French, with Mottl conducting the Ring. There 
was no Tristan. 






Indian Summer 







THE passing of the nineteenth century, the death 
of Queen Victoria, and the retirement of the 
de Reszke brothers profoundly influenced the 
fortunes of the Royal Opera, and it may be that in the 
light of history the first two years of the twentieth 
century wrote finis to an older order, both artistically 
and socially. True, the subscription system which 
alone could keep such an institution alive survived for 
some time, but the policies of Governments rather 
spoilt the enjoyment, and, with the extinguishing of 
the lights in the auditorium at the insistence of rigid 
Wagner-lovers, the festive atmosphere began to fade, 
although until the war in 1914 evening dress was 
still compulsory. 

Not only did politics change, but, following the de 
Reszkes, there occurred such an efflux of the leading 
singers as left more than ample room for such singers 
as might replace them. Consider then that two or 
three seasons only sufficed to see the last of Tamagno, 
de Lussan, Emma Eames, Alvarez, Saleza, Salignac, 
Renaud and Galv6 (Renaud returned in 1912 in 
Hammerstein's season at the London Opera House, 
q.v,) and this left only a mere handful to carry on 
into the new century. However, the replacements 
trickled in, until in 1904 there was such an influx of 
first-rate talent as had never happened before in a 

The Age of Jean de Reszjke 

single season, to carry on the great traditions into 
that mellow Edwardian decade which reached a 
peak of prosperity and general well-being for those 
privileged to enjoy it. 


Another, if less significant change as the scene 
shifted, was the retirement from the Royal Opera 
management of Maurice Grau, who may have felt 
himself in danger of being bereft of the moral and 
physical support of his loyal and staunch friends the 
de Reszkes. His place was given to Andr6 Messager, 
who, besides being a fine conductor of Grand Opera, 
was a composer of light opera, in particular the de- 
lightful Veronique which had great success in London 
and the provinces. 

The season opened with Rondo et Juliette with 
Saleza, looking remarkably like a youthful Jean de 
Reszke, partnering Emma Eames; and this was the 
opera to conclude the season, this time with Melba 
and Salignac. Van Dyck, Gadski and Strakosch 
ensured a fine Tannhauser, with Otto Lohse conduct- 
ing. In Rigoletto Anselmi appeared as the Duke, and 
this singer, although not appearing with any regu- 
larity, was much admired whenever he did. Stan- 
ford's Much Ado about Nothing was well named, but 
Suzanne Adams looked charming as Hero at the two 
performances that were sufficient to satisfy any 
curiosity that Londoners felt about it. No better 
fortune fell to Lalo's Le Rot d'Ts> despite its beautiful 
aubade for tenor. It was sung by (among others) 


Indian Summer 

Plan<jon, Paul Seveilhac, who was to be one of Covent 
Garden's most useful baritones, and Suzanne Adams. 
The last-named and most charming singer also sang 
with her invariable success in Faust and in Rigoktio, 
taking turns with Melba, to everybody's satisfaction. 
The return of Tamagno, which was certainly not un- 
connected with the departure of Jean de Reszke, was 
the occasion for the revival of de Lara's Messaline, 
which he sang with Calve, whose impersonation of 
the title-role was a striking one, as might have been 
expected. Tamagno also appeared in the six per- 
formances ofOtello, and two of Les Huguenots. 

The only event of importance in a somewhat 
sterile season was the debut, although in the unspec- 
tacular role of Siebel in Faust, of Kirkby Lunn, who 
thus began a career of the greatest distinction, possess- 
ing as she did a golden contralto comparable only 
with that of Schumann-Heink. Especially did Kirkby 
Luim shine in Wagner, where her regal Fricka weU 
matched the majestic Wotan of van Rooy, but she 
excelled in every role, and was the most notable 
Amneris in Aida until the coming many years later of 
Ebe Stignani. She was in constant request for con- 
cert and oratorio, and at the Ballad Concerts which 
were a fortnightly feature throughout the season at the 
Queen's Hall, Kirkby Lunn was so versatile that she 
could 'put over* a new ballad with as equal a 
certainty of touch as could Carmen Hill, a little 
artist who was without question the finest ballad singer 
of her time or perhaps of any other, and never missed 
a Chappell Ballad Concert. 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 


The season of 1902 deserves to rank with that of 1887 
in introducing another outstanding tenor. The very 
name of Caruso holds magic for all those who heard 
him, and especially perhaps for those who did so at 
the beginning of his great fame. It was in daily use 
with people who had never heard the name of any 
other opera singer, and was used as a sobriquet for any- 
body who made singing-like noises: "Why, you're a 
regular Caruso !" "Stop it, Caruso, weVe had enough I" 
"Signor Caruso told me I ought to do so," drunkenly 
sang Wilkie Bard on the music halls where he was 
singing of his ambitions to become an Opera Singer. 
In those days there was no publicity as we today 
understand it; Caruso's fame just filtered through by 
sheer force of its weight. His singing defied descrip- 
tion because it was so personal to himself, for, al- 
though he had studied voice production, he seemed 
to have a natural flair for what was right, as though 
the necessary control of throat, breath and muscles 
had been born in him. Not only had Caruso a voice 
of peach-like quality, the like of which has not been 
heard since, but he had a manner of delivering it 
which was beyond imitation, and he had at his com- 
mand a range of vocal colour which he applied with 
the taste and facility of a painter. 

He had three rather distinct periods : in the first, he 
was the gay and lighthearted singer, enjoying to the 
full his triumphs, the voice perfect and incomparable 
and the style seemingly incapable of improvement. 


Indian Summer 

He was then at his best in every role; whether (to 
conjure up those in which I heard him) as the 
Duke in Rigoletto never shall I forget the shiver of 
anticipation that ran through the audience as La 
donna I mobile opened, or the arrogant assurance of the 
indoor scenes; or as Don Jose, with the purity of his 
legato in the Flower Song. I remember his sentimental 
Rodolfo in La Bohime; the swagger of his Raoul in 
Les Huguenots, and the passionate abandon of the 
final duo. 

The second period, which was noticeable by 1906, 
was marked by a greater steadiness and a closer co- 
ordination of his vast resources, resulting in a degree 
of technical perfection which was recognised as being 
equal to that of Jean de Reszke himself. The stupen- 
dous breath control, the greater regard to note values, 
and above all the wonderful and massive phrasing 
placed Caruso on a pinnacle, used as these attributes 
were with a voice that, as it increased in power, in- 
creased also in sensuous and luscious quality. It was at 
this period that he was heard in the Albert Hall, 
London, while not singing at the Opera, and there 
one could observe the mechanism working under the 
massive wall of his ribs while the swelling note in 
Paradiso in Meyerbeer's UAfrieaiw climbed to its 
overpowering climax with the little very little jerk 
of the head and snap of the glottis as he cleanly 
brought it to a close m fortissimo. The advance now 
noticeable was reflected in his records, which afford an 
admirable guide to the course of Caruso's voice; and 
it was at that period that he recorded the Paradiso, 
which from a singing and technical point of view may 
be selected as the peak of his achievement. 

The third period may have begun during the 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

first war or just before. In his season at Govent 
Garden in 1914 the oncoming darkening of his timbre 
began to be noticed, although it was little if any less 
beautiful than of old. But he was growing more 
solemn, both in himself and in his art: there was less 
manifest enjoyment, except in spending the vast sums 
of money he was earning, both in opera and by his 
records. He bought vastly for his friends and acquaint- 
ances, and at Christmas time, accompanied by the 
young American wife he adored, he would make a 
progress through the big shops in New York with a 
huge bag, buying everything he could see that was 
expensive and beautiful this for So-and-so, and that 
for So-and-so else. "But do you like all these people, 
>Rico?" said Dorothy Caruso. "No! but they ex- 
pect/* came the somewhat disillusioned reply. 

After the war he lost his health and after much 
suffering he died in his native Italy, where he was out 
of reach of the type of surgical aid which he urgently 

It was as the Duke in Verdi's Rigoletto that he made 
his London debut, with Melba as Gilda and Renaud 
as the jester, and from that night his success was never 
in doubt. He sang in La Boheme with Melba; with 
Regina Pacini in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and 
L'Elisir famore and in Carmen with Calv6. He sang 
also as Ottavio in Don Giovanni which he later sang 
with Agnes Nicholls and with him on that occasion 
were Renaud as his impressive Don, Litvinne, Suzanne 
Adams, Fritzi SchefF, Pini-Corsi, and Gilibert. Nor- 
dica sang in Lohengrin, with Kirkby Lunn as Ortrud 
and van Rooy as his terrifying Telramund; Nordica 
sang also as Isolde, with van Dyck as Tristan. The 
famous and excellent Mary Garden also made a 

Indian Summer 

London debut, in Massenet's Manon, with still another 
notable debutant in Adolphe Marechal. Naturally 
enough, the first of the famous Melba-Garuso 
partnerships, which were to continue as a focus of 
fashion, took place in this season. 

Begging the indulgence of my readers, I would like 
to say something to the effect that "this is where I 
came in", for in 1903 I made my own London debut 
as a member of the Govent Garden audience. Pro- 
perly warned and primed, I was taken to hear Tristan 
und Isolde my first experience of any opera. Not, 
one might think, an ideal choice for anybody so in- 
experienced, but I would not have had it otherwise, 
for it was a particularly auspicious occasion. Escort- 
ing an elderly lady who was looking so smart that 
even a youth could be proud of his charge, I made my 
entry up one of the short flights of steps leading to the 
stalls. We were slightly late, and the Prelude had 
begun, but fashions being what they were in those 
days, and the hour of beginning somewhat on the 
early side for diners, there were plenty to follow us. 
It had not then been the custom to extinguish the 
auditorium lights leaving blinded late-comers to 
grope and stumble towards their seats and the house 
was filled with the warm mellow glow from the 
slightly dimmed candelabra lights round the boxes, 
which were so maintained for the whole performance. 
One might suppose that the view of the stage was 
impaired thereby, but on the contrary, everything 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

was gained, and nothing lost, for one could comfort- 
ably follow score or libretto as the performance pro- 
ceeded. Taking my free programme from a dignified 
elderly gentleman in Court dress, and buying from 
him the libretto which I still have, I found myself 
seated in what might have been a spacious and lux- 
urious drawing-room, filled with guests of a uniformly 
smart and brilliant appearance. The Covent Garden 
audience was, in fact, the very focal point of fashion, 
and one of the loveliest sights to be seen in London. 
Dinner jackets or black ties were unknown there; only 
tails and white ties were worn. 

Although I had heard good renderings of Messiah 
and Elijah, it was a time when amateur singing was 
much in vogue, and I expect I had heard my share of 
it. It is not surprising, then, that the impact of the 
sheer quality of those voices in Tristan, and the 
supreme ease with which they were singing music of 
such unimaginable difficulty, has left a greater and 
more permanent impression on my memory than any- 
thing that followed. When the curtain rose, my first 
sight of one of those fabulous singers with whose names 
I was already familiar was that of Ternina, of whose 
glorious Isolde I have already spoken. Characteristic 
of her majestic treatment of the role was the regal 
quality of her sweeping gesture in her sudden order to 
Brangane "Luft ! Luft ! Mir ersst-ickt das Herz. Offiie ! 
offhe dort weit!"; and the outraged dignity at "Fluch 
dir, Verriickter" always a thrilling moment 
from Ternina was unforgettable. Van Dyck was a 
true figure of Arthurian legend vital, tense and 
highly emotional: he seemed to know the part in its 
every aspect so well that he could act as the fine actor 
that he was, without any feelings of anxiety about his 

Indian Summer 

music. Of van Rooy*s Kurvenal I have also said 
something, and this again was another ineffaceable 
and irreplaceable memory. He moved about the 
stage as though on springs, and his eloquent eyes 
expressed every emotion naturally and spontaneously: 
he was never inert for a moment, and less so than 
ever when standing or sitting with a rocklike stillness. 
Kirkby Lunn's Brangane was a tender and faithful 
figure, always in the picture, and never too much so; 
she, also, knew the value of repose when needed. 

I remember also some points of production which I 
will mention because they have been lost sight of, and 
much dramatic effect sacrificed. The most outstanding 
of these was in the discovery of the lovers, every de- 
tail of which remains photographed on my mind. 
What happened was that immediately on the entrance 
of Mark and his following, Tristan sprang to his feet 
and held his cloak at arm's-length to shield Isolde and 
to cover her embarrassment. Isolde, meanwhile, had 
sunk her head into the lap of the distressed Brangane, 
and, having instantly assumed these positions, they 
stayed so without movement for what seemed an age. 
When Tristan began to speak Isolde raised her head 
and fixed her eyes on him as only a great actress 
could. I think it was this immobility that created 
much of the effect. In subsequent performances, and 
especially the inter-war ones, Tristan's movements, if 
any, were perfunctory and slow, lacking the tense 
excitement which van Dyck used with such signifi- 
cance. Brangane thought it necessary only to fling a 
scarf over the upright figure of Isolde, who continued 
to sit unconcerned with her hands in her lap, after 
which Brangane turned negligently away without 
showing further interest. This may seem harsh 

N [193] 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

criticism, but it is true, and I think fairly covers most 
if not all of the performances up to 1939. The later 
Isoldes I have seen, one or more times, were von 
Mildenburg, Edyth Walker, Fassbender-Mottl, Leider, 
Flagstad and Lubin. All were fine artists, but none 
conveyed the feeling of shame and embarrassment at 
that crucial point. The two other places where I have 
been disappointed have been with the lethargic be- 
haviour of the successive Kurvenals on the rise of the 
curtain on the third act, and the indifference of most 
Branganes at the moment of Isolde's death. 

I will give the cast of my first Tristan in proper 
form, copied directly from my own programme, be- 
cause there has never been another to equal it in my time. 


The Grand Opera Syndicate, Limited. 

Manager, M. Andr6 Messager. 

This evening's performance 
Wednesday June zyth at 7.30. 

Wagner's Opera 


in German 

Tristan Herr van Dyck 

Konig Marke Herr Blass 

Isolde Fraulein Ternina 

Kurvenal Herr van Rooy 

Mdot Mr Robert Maitland 

Brangane Mme Kirkby Lunn 

Ein Hurt Herr Reiss 

Conductor Herr Lohse 

Indian Summer 

Besides the exciting event just noted, there were 
three cycles of the Ring under Richter, and in the 
absence this season of Caruso, Bonci was the chief 
tenor, singing in Rigoletto, Lucia, La Boheme, and 
E Barbiere. In the last of these, Maria Barrientos, then 
little more than a girl, made her London debut as 
Rosina; and Titta Ruffb, who a few evenings pre- 
viously had made his debut in Lucia, sang as Figaro. 
Neither of these singers returned to London, although 
both made big reputations. Ruffo was one of those 
singers about whom there has always been a strongly 
marked difference of opinion, but there has been 
none about Barrientos, who was an excellent light 
soprano for many years, and sang with Caruso nearly 
at the end of his career in his much publicized trip to 

I have always found that where these differences 
exist about the merits of a singer, it is the Noes who 
are the more likely to be right. It seldom happens, but 
when it does happen it can appear that the admirers 
are not wholly single-minded in their judgment, and 
may be swayed by personal reasons none so potent 
as the flattering acquaintance of a celebrity, however 

In this season there was a State Performance, or 
Gala, in honour of the French President, and the 
names of the singers at these functions offer a useful 
guide to the quality of the available talent. In a 
scene from Rigoletto the singers were Melba, Bonci, 
Renaud and Journet: in the second act of Carmen 
Calv6 sang with Alvarez and Planon; and Melba 
sang with Alvarez the love duet in Romio et Juliette. 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 


The years of the opening of the new century have 
been aptly named the Twilight of Opera 5 for 
Covent Garden; Herman Klein used the expression 
Operdammerung, which I have modified into 'Indian 
Summer 5 , for after living for three years more or less 
upon its resources, the opera did produce in 1904 a 
truly vintage crop of first-class singers. I was present 
at the opening night for Don Giovanni, which was a 
'special 5 uncut performance in a series conducted by 
Hans Richter, who at about that time had made his 
memorable remark that he thought that there was 'a 
future for Mozarf . On this occasion I had the honour 
of partaking in the welcome to Emma Destinn in her 
renowned role of Anna, and this addition to the 
strength of the opera was of the first importance, for 
Destinn was a singer and artist of a calibre equal to 
any that have been mentioned in these pages, and may 
even be said to have been the first and perhaps only 
artist to fill the gap left empty for 30 years by the 
demise of Titiens. She appeared with regularity until 
the outbreak of war, returning in 1919 to sing in her 
best voice. One recalls her magnificent Valentina in 
LAS Huguenots, her Amelia in Verdi's Ballo, in which, in 
1919, her duet with Martinelli was one of the most 
exciting things I remember. Her Aida was a standard 
classic, and her duet in this opera with the Amneris of 
Kirkby Lunn crowned a partnership that ranked with 
those of Melba and Caruso or of Bonci and Tetrazzini, 
or more appropriately perhaps with Patti and Scalchi, 


Indian Summer 

or Titiens and Trebelli, who now seem so far away. 
Her Tosca was a notable one, and her Butterfly 
offered some raison (Tltre for this rather tawdry music. 
A few nights after her debut she sang as Elsa in 
Lohengrin with the Danish Wilhelm H6rold, a most 
excellent artist who has been compared with Jean 
de Reszke for similarity of voice and style, for he sang 
with the serene and aristocratic address which one 
associates with his prototype. He sang Faust and 
Rom&> also, and Walter in Die Meistersinger. 

In this Don Giovanni the notable cast was, besides 
Destinn, Suzanne Adams as Elvira, Alice Nielsen, 
another excellent newcomer, as Zerlina, Salignac as 
Ottavio, Journet as Leporello and Renaud as the Don. 

One must pause a little to speak of Renaud, for his 
Don Giovanni was a wonderful study. I remember 
the intensity of his interpretation, and the quiet 
ruthlessness with which he went about his affairs. His 
singing method had the open-throatedness which 
Bonci used, but Renaud used it with a more poignant 
effect. His Don would have been an exacting friend 
and a dangerous enemy, for humour was not part of 
him, but he was self-sufficient and certain of 

Another singer at whose debut I was present was 
the delightful Selma Kurz, the Viennese star, whom I 
heard in Rigoletto singing Gilda with Caruso, Renaud 
and Journet; her triumph was immediate and em- 
phatic. She had everything; great beauty of a classi- 
cal kind, a golden voice, and dignity or pathos as 
required. Her Queen in ' Les Huguenots, sung in 
company with Destinn, Bella Alten, Caruso, Scotti, 
Journet and the American bass-baritone Whitehill, 
was a radiant figure, and how she revelled in the 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

fioriture of her music ! The tale of Selma Kurz's endless 
shake in the Balk is a true one; the conductor would 
lay down his baton, knowing that she would complete 
her slow perambulation across the front of the stage 
before he needed to pick it up. It was the most liquid 
and exquisite shake that seemed to grow in volume 
as it proceeded, filling the whole house with its 
vibrant tones. 

Mario Sammarco made his London debut this year, 
although well known already as a leading baritone in 
Italy. He appeared as Amonasro in Aida, and made an 
instant success, for this was one of his most effective 
roles. Although actually short in stature, so formidable 
was his aspect that, added to his breadth of shoulder 
and depth of chest, he never appeared to be so. He 
sang a great number of roles for ten years, appearing 
very frequently as Scarpia in La Tosca, to which he 
was perhaps better suited than was the more admired 
Scotti, although neither quite equalled Giraldoni, 
who created the role at the world premtire, and, 
although not especially pleasing vocally, was a 
superb actor. A far from negligible debutante was the 
American Elizabeth Parkina, whom all who saw her 
will remember with affection, for she was a lovely 
little creature, light as a feather both in person and in 
a voice which was of a fine quality and trained to the 
last iota by the ageing Mathilde Marchesi, who 
thought most highly of her, and whose daughter 
Blanche could praise her without reservations. As 
Musetta in La Bohfone she was wholly delightful, and 
never seen to better advantage, and her Siebel in 
Faust not a great part, certainly was lovable for 
its extreme femininity. On one occasion she under- 
studied Melba as Marguerite in Faust, and although it 

Indian Summer 

was Melba who had launched her, Parkina's triumph 
was a little too much, and Melba saw to it that it did 
not occur again. The reasons given for her dis- 
appearance from the opera vary with the telling, but 
the version most readily accepted was that on a 
Boheme night Parkina was suffering severely from 
neuralgia; Melba dosed her with champagne, and, 
being injudicious in the amount administered, sent 
poor Parkina on to the stage in such a state as to leave 
no doubt. However that may be, it ended her career 
in opera. 

Besides these roles, Parkina appeared in the small 
but select cast which sang the potme Iyrique 9 Hitine, 
by Saint-Saens, in the role of Venus, with Melba as 
Helen, Dalmores as Paris and Kirkby Lunn as 
Pallas. It seemed to have been a charming occasion, 
but had only two performances. 

Dalmor&s, whom we have just noticed, was another 
of the distinguished newcomers, and replaced Saleza 
and Salignac to everybody's satisfaction. He was a 
very fine singer in the French style, and always sang 
with distinction in the French works. His debut was in 
Faust with Adams, Parkina, Scotti and Journet. We 
will look out for him in 1909, when he created for 
Londoners the role of Julien in Charpentier's 

Carmen, Faust and Pagliacd were going well with six 
performances each, and the German Lohengrin, 
Meistersinger, Tannhauser and Tristan with five each. 
Verdi was represented by Aida (four performances), 
Ballo (four), RigoUtto (six) and Tramata (three). It 
was in Aida that another distinguished soprano 
appeared in London in the title role Giannina Russ, 
who sang with Caruso and Scotti and Plangon in 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Aida, and in Verdi's Balk with Caruso, Scotti and 

Other operas worthy of special mention on account 
of novelty were Massenet's La Navarraise, sung by 
Mme de Nuovina, Dalmorfcs, Journet, Gotreuil and 
Gilibert; it preceded / Pagliacci: also by Massenet 
was Hrodiade> which was remarkable chiefly for the 
excellence of its casting, Calv6 being the Salome, 
Dalmores the Baptist, Renaud the Herod, and 
Kirkby Lunn the Hfrodiade, with Plangon and 

The Lord Chamberlain's office was active at this 
period in forbidding the presentation of plays or 
operas of a Biblical nature, but was apparently 
prepared to turn the other eye when the names of the 
characters were changed, while overlooking the title 
of the work! 

The summer season closed with Melba, Caruso and 
Scotti in La Traviata. 

Following the successful summer season, the San 
Carlo Opera Company of Naples gave a short season 
in October and November, which continued to add to 
the new talent for which this year was notable. 
Perhaps the first place among these new artists should 
be awarded to Mme Boninsegna, a dramatic soprano 
of quite unusual gifts, whose uncommon type of 
voice combined the soprano with the contralto, not 
merely in range but in quality. Without a doubt 
Boninsegna was the finest Aida I have heard, and I 
heard her twice in the role; naturally she was also the 
perfect Amelia in the Ballo. Her success was very fully 


Indian Summer 

recognised and acknowledged, but for one reason or 
another she never reappeared in London; but she left 
a legacy of superb gramophone records made at that 
time and later, which today are much required by 
collectors. Eleanore de Cisneros, previously well 
known in America under her maiden name of Broad- 
foot, was another excellent and decorative addition to 
the strength, making a striking Amneris to the Aida of 

The season opened with Puccini's Manon Lescaut, 
with Caruso as Des Grieux and another newcomer, 
Rina Giachetti, as Manon. One might prefer to 
dismiss this soprano from one's memory, but she was 
not that kind of person. She was a sort of kinswoman 
to Caruso, although something of a thorn in his flesh, 
for she was as masterful in private life as she was 
dominating on the stage. She was lacking in all the 
generally accepted graces, she was plain to the point 
of ugliness, ungainly, and with a voice of a distressingly 
and quite horrifyingly rasping quality. But Giachetti 
was a really great tragedienne, and knew all that was 
to be known about singing. She was smart and chic 
and she had style, so evidently there was something 
about her; and whether it was through Caruso's 
reluctant influence or her own forceful personality, 
she impressed herself upon opera-goers in London to 
such an extent that it was sometimes spoken of as the 
'reign of terror'. I believe that her Tosca may have 
been the finest interpretation from the point of view 
of art unadorned that we have yet seen, and the 
management of her unpleasant voice in Vissi forte was 
something to remember. 

Never was any singer so miscast as was Giachetti in 
an Italian Faust, the circumstances of whose production 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

are worth recalling. Faust, as was well known, had 
never missed a season in London since its first produc- 
tion, but for this season it had been omitted from the 
syllabus. This so incensed the Daily Minor, then a 
ladies' newspaper in its third year, that the opera 
management were constrained to appease the angry 
newspaper, and hastily patched together a production 
which was in fact given four performances. At the 
first of these every member of the audience found in 
his place a souvenir gift of a small but elegant and 
well-made hand mirror of very good quality; I still 
use my own on occasion generally for the purpose of 
reading the ignition setting on my car. 

Besides the unconvincing Margherita of Giachetti, 
Faust was sung by Carlo Dani, a tenorino with some 
Continental reputation; Ancona was Valentine and 
Arimondi the Mephisto. The opera was conducted by 
Campanini who in those days was much addicted to his 
brass, which he used with literally overpowering effect. 

A notable and interesting renfrte was the appearance 
of Maurel, who sang lago in a single scratch per- 
formance of Qtello, in which a certain M. Due did 
what he could as the Moor. Maurel also sang in 
Rigoletto with Alice Nielsen, who had made a name for 
herself as one of the famous trio of women in Don 
Giovanni in the summer. Alice Nielsen at this time 
assisted Maurel at the first of his two song recitals, 
at both of which I was ardently present. At both 
recitals Maurel ended his programme with Quand* 
ero paggio in Verdi's Falstaff, which he had to repeat 
many times until, shaking with laughter, he fled from 
the platform. He sang two of Tosti's manuscript 
ballads, and it was evident that Tosti, who was sitting 
in the front row, and who was of a distinctly cheerful 


Indian Summer 

dispostion, was causing some amusement to the 
platform. Landon Ronald accompanied on both or 
one of these occasions, and it was he who accompanied 
the London-made records of the opera pioneers in 
recording. Many years afterwards I remarked to Sir 
Landon that I had a record by him of the Liebestod in 
Tristan und Isolde, quickly adding that it was a piano 
transcription and not a vocal performance. This now 
very rare disc is one of the tiny seven-inch records 
which preceded the better-known series. 

To return to the opera, Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur 
was given with Anselmi, Giachetti, de Cisneros, 
Sammarco and Angelini-Fornari, the last a verypleasing 
baritone, and it ran to four performances. This work 
was revived in 1906, and that was the end of it for 
London. Caruso left a record of a passage in a duet 
which had the briefest of currency and now exists only 
in a few single specimens. 

Carmen was splendidly performed with Mme Gianoli 
(later Bressler-Gianoli) in the title role. Her gipsy 
was of a mature type, but she was very good indeed, 
and, with Caruso as Don Jose, there was plenty 
of excitement in the last act. Alice Nielsen, who 
was becoming indispensable, was a charming and 
excellent Micaela, singing her big aria in the grand 
manner. The Escantillo was Amato, and rather 

Other well-known artists who took part in this 
season included Vignas, who sang Radames with 
Boninsegna in Aida, and the fine basso Arimondi, who 
sang anything that was required of him. The season 
augured well for future autumns, and completed the 
amazingly numerous additions to the ranks of first- 
rate singers for 1904. 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Maurel returned to Govent Garden for the last 
time singing Figaro in the Barbiere with Hermine 
Bosetti, who was destined for greater fame as the 
Oktavian in Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. He sang also 
as Malatesta in Donizetti's Don Pasquale with the same 
lady. Vanni-Marcoux (unhyphenated in the early 
days) made the first of his innumerable appearances, 
replacing to a large extent the more excellent Journet, 
but he seemed to me always to be an austere type, 
desiccated in voice and forbidding in aspect. Pauline 
Donalda was a more welcome d&butante^ appearing 
first in Carmen as Micaela with Dalmorfcs and Destinn, 
and had a highly successful career. In this season I 
also heard her as Marguerite, and when, at the 
eleventh hour, she replaced Melba in La Boheme, 
causing, I thought, some disappointment to Caruso, 
who did not sing that night with his customary 
exuberance, although, as usual, he enjoyed his 
scenes with Scotti as who wouldn't? 

Destinn made her only mistake in essaying the role 
of Carmen, attempting to replace Calve, who had 
departed. Calve had been one of the really great 
figures from the time of her entry on the scene in 1892 
until her retirement. She was difficult, wilful and 
capricious, charming and delightful, with inexhaust- 
ible spirits and unquenchable exuberance. Z61ie de 
Lussan, who was on cordial terms with her colleagues, 
although without mixing much with them, related in 
her inimitable manner how she and Emma Eames 


Indian Summer 

were sitting in a hotel lounge waiting for a party to 
collect, and when Calv6 swept in as though entering 
the stage, taking everybody's eye and greeting her 
friends from afar, Emma Eames said, "I do wish that 
woman could be quiet sometimes, can't we have 
a little peace?" And two seconds later the two 
artists, of such opposite temperaments, were effusively 
embracing their dearest Emmas ! 

Les Huguenots was revived on the usual grand scale, 
this time as GK Ugonotti, with a cast which I have 
mentioned when introducing Selma Kurz. The 
season produced another Gala, for the King and 
Queen of Spain, when the second act of Faust was 
sung by Dalmores and Kurz, the third act of La 
Bohhne by Melba, Parkina, Caruso and Scotti, and 
the fourth act of the Huguenots by Destinn, Caruso, 
Whitehill and Scotti. 

There were two not especially brilliant cycles of 
the Ring, with Whitehill as Wotan and Wittich as 
Briinnhilde. Whitehill always deputized for van Rooy, 
but at all times I found him a little dull and heavy, 
although entirely reliable. 

Kirkby Lunn's glorious voice made an inevitable 
success of Gluck's Orfeo in French, with Jeanne Raunay 
as Eurydice and Parkina as L' Amour; and Leoiu's 
UOracolo, in which many years later Scotti bade 
farewell to the stage, had its London premiere with, 
besides Scotti, Donalda, Marcoux and Dalmores. It 
was admired, but had no real success in England. As 
an alternative to Caruso, Constantino sang the Duke 
in Rigoletto and Alfredo in the Traviata. Van Rooy 
sang his much admired Sachs in Die Meistersinger. 

A landmark occurred in this season in the London 
premise of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. In this opera 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Destinn scored one of her most notable successes, and 
Caruso and Scotti got well away with it. Everybody 
who survives from those early days of Butterfly will 
recall with deep regret the later introduction, evidently 
with the connivance of the composer, of the 
'humming' which, to my ear, is quite abominable, 
and which intrudes upon the beautiful and significant 
moment when the simple and entrancing little theme 
is given out by the orchestra, and Butterfly and Suzuki 
settle down to await Pinkerton's arrival, I have not 
checked, because I think it unnecessary, in what 
edition of the score this change was made; but I do 
know that it was not in use at Govent Garden at the 
year of the opera's premise or for some years later, 
because, as I detest the sound of humming, it could not 
possibly have passed me by! I remember very well 
the deep effect this interlude produced in me on its 
first hearing. 

As foreshadowed last year, the autumn season of 
1905 maintained the excellent standard of that of 1904. 
It was opened and closed by Melba and de Marchi in 
La Boh&me, and as these were my two first experiences 
of this much beloved singer, the occasions were a 
definite milestone in my operatic pilgrim's progress. 
I had aimed at hearing her in tihe same opera in the 
summer of 1904, but, as related, we had Donalda 
instead. The diminutive Emma Trentini was a 
lively and altogether fascinating Musetta, and de 
Marchi, the tenor who had created the role of 
Cavaradossi in Tosca in its world premiere in 1900, was a 
very forthcoming and articulate Rodotfo. 

Giordano's Andrea Chenier had its first performance 
at Covent Garden. On the night following Melba's 
rentrte, Giovanni Zenatello made his first flashing 


Indian Summer 

appearance in London, leaving no doubt about his 
status as a tenor of the first class. The opera was Un 
Ballo in maschera, with Boninsegna, Sammarco and 
Trentini to support him. Next to Caruso, he was the 
most important tenor ever to come to London in the 
present century, and his ringing voice and most 
pleasantly exuberant style made him an immediate 
favourite. No role came amiss to him; his 'grand 
manner 9 made him perhaps the finest Radames 
within memory, and so far was he from being a mere 
bellower that he could sing the Amor ti vieta in Gior- 
dano's Fedora with the tenderest of legatos. In 1908, as 
we shall see, Zenatello climbed to the peat with his 
memorable and since unmatched Otello, and he never 
descended from it. 

Madama Butterfly had eleven performances, against 
the six of the summer season. Giachetti sang the title 
role throughout, and must be allowed to have made a 
fine job of it. Zenatello was the Pinkerton; but the 
fatal difference between this production and its 
predecessor was the essential contrast between the 
Consuls of Scotti and Sammarco. Scotti was just his 
easy and aristocratic self, full of bonhomie with Pinker- 
ton, and kind, sympathetic, and tactful with Butterfly. 
The scene of the reading of the letter was so beauti- 
fully done that it would take another Scotti to repeat 
its effect. Sammarco, in an official black frock coat 
instead of the more probable white tropical suit, was 
uncomfortable and ill at ease as he appeared after 
climbing the bill to Pinkerton's pied-&-terre. It was not 
his role. 

Perhaps inspired by MaurePs recent example, 
Battistrni returned to sing Rigoletto and Don Giovanni. 
The cast for the latter was nothing much, but it is one 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

of my life's regrets that I missed the opportunity. A 
new and striking basso, Adamo Didur, served for a 
revival of Mefistofele, with Zenatello a splendid 
Faust and Giachetti a regrettable Margherita and 

Another season was inaugurated and partly carried 
out in 1905, at the new Waldorf Theatre in Aldwych, 
London, by a new impresario, Henry Russell, who 
was a brother of Landon Ronald. This theatre was 
built as part of the major replanning of that area, 
when the squalid streets and alleys of Seven Dials 
became the Aldwych and Kingsway of today. It was 
shortly renamed the Strand Theatre, as it still re- 

The season was plaixned on full-scale lines, some of 
the best of the earlier Covent Garden artists being 
engaged, and it is for this reason that I, feel eternally 
indebted to Henry Russell for having given me the 
opportunity of hearing such singers as de Lucia, 
Kni-Corsi and others. The opening night was to 
have been with LAmico Fritz, with Calve and de 
Lucia; but when Galv6 defaulted, / Pagliacci was 
substituted, preceded by Paer's // Maestro di Capella, a 
trifle which served for a display of virtuosity for 
Pini-Corsi, who was an incomparable comedian and a 
very considerable baritone. It was in a repetition of 
this programme that I first heard de Lucia, of whose 
performance as Ganio I find it impossible to speak too 
highly. He was so fine an actor that his portrayal 
of the emotions through which the unfortunate Ganio 
passes were all expressed with complete conviction. 


Indian Summer 

His cheerful and lively entry with his colleagues, with 
the ravishing Nedda of Irene de Bohuss, with Tonio 
and Beppe the harlequin, in glittering costumes, 
filled the stage and the eye at once, and his familiarity 
with the role (he must have done it hundreds of times 
by then) made one at once aware that de Lucia was a 
great stage artist. Something has been written of his 
voice and singing in his debut in 1887, and despite the 
passage of time no deterioration could have been de- 
tected, for the silvery quality was abundantly manifest. 
He used this with poignant effect in the Vesti la giubba, 
which he sang in a way which was, unhappily as I 
think, displaced by the more violent method made 
popular by Caruso; with de Lucia the pathos rather 
than the fury was underlined, and the role was not 
made a mere vehicle for vocal virtuosity. All in all, 
his Ganio was a sympathetic figure, and it was practi- 
cally de Lucia's creation, though little enough of it 
has survived. 

Ancona's Tonio was another superlative creation, 
although in this case also he was not the original 
singer in the world premiere: in this, Tonio was sung 
by Maurel, and Ganio by Giraud, neither of whom 
carried on in the roles, which were at once taken over 
and retained by our two artists. Another noteworthy 
night was when // Barbiere was given with Alice 
Nielsen as Rosina, de Lucia, Ancona as Figaro, 
Arimondi as Basilio and Pini-Corsi the perfect 
Bartolo. This might well have been the most ex- 
quisite rendering of the opera ever to have been 
heard, for de Lucia's polished fooling with the more 
robust fun of Ancona made a most artistic combina- 
tion, while Arimondi and Pini-Corsi in this, as in all 
partnerships of theirs, kept the audience vastly enter- 

o [ 209 ] 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

tained: Alice Nielsen was a lively, lovely and sparkling 
Rosina. Perhaps an important point of difference 
between the school of singing represented by these 
singers of the 'nineties and what has done duty since 
was the method of the delivery of the recitative secco, to 
say nothing of the appoggiatwras that went with them. 
The quickness and precision with which these were 
given would indeed be an object-lesson today. 

Emma Nevada re-emerged to sing Violetta in the 
Traviata, but, while her old skill was still apparent, the 
passing of time was noticeable. Mme Nevada told of 
this, adding that de Lucia sang with her, which may 
have been so, but, like all elderly prima donnas, her 
memory was at times inclined to betray her. She 
told me that the pathos of one of her scenes was much 
en.han.ced by an attack of violent toothache, which 
caused real tears to flow, and which added to the 
commendations which her realistic performances 
received the next day ! 

The season foundered on the shoal of finance, for 
the proprietor of the Daily Mail suddenly withdrew 
the support with which he had enthusiastically 
launched the season, whereupon the principals took 
wing; after a few attempts to sing to empty houses 
with minor singers in major roles, the end was 


So deep an impression had Battistini made in the 
previous autumn, that he accepted an engagement 
for the following summer, and he was the dominant 


Indian Summer 

figure whenever he appeared. In the programme 
which we reproduce as Plate 19 his Germont in 
the Traviata seemed to tower above the well-known 
interpretations of Melba and Caruso in their roles. 
The role of Germont is too often dismissed as stodgy 
and dull, but it can be made into a fine part. It just 
depends on who sings it. In recent years this was 
strikingly demonstrated when, in a performance by 
the Carl Rosa Company, in which Margery Field 
was giving one of her several superb performances in 
this and other operas, Arthur Copley was called upon 
by H. B. Phillips to take over the role owing to the 
illness of the expected singer, and sang and acted it 
with such splendour and sincerity as to earn him a 
very well deserved triumph. Copley's Germont 
remains one of the high spots in my operatic memories. 

Battistini challenged failure in undertaking the 
lugubrious Eugene Onegin in the work of that name, 
with Destinn as Tatiana. I did not hear it, but have 
few regrets. Destinn made a great hit with her Senta 
in The Flying Dutchman, with van Rooy at his best. 
Frances Alda made a few appearances, and Anna von 
Mildenburg, afterwards Bahr-Mildenburg, sang Isolde 
in classic style. 

The level of the Wagner performances at this 
period was a high one: Agnes Nicholls appeared as 
Venus in Tannhduser, with Ternina as Elizabeth and 
van Rooy as the deplorable Wolfram, though his 
organ-like notes went far to compensate for the 
sentimentality of this minstrel-knight. Ternina also 
sang her matchless Isolde, and Joanna Gadski was a 
Brunnhilde in the Ring cycles. Although several 
were tried, Siegfrieds and Tristans were not easy to 
come by, but Ernst Kraus will be re-appearing anon. 


The Age of Jean de Res&e 

A notable premiere was that of Massenet's Le Jong- 
leur de Notre Dame; although the composer was too 
often addicted to sentimentality and this work was 
no exception it was without a doubt in the front 
rank of his output. Without a residence in Paris, few 
could claim to have compassed all of Massenet's 
operas, but Le Jongleur is a work of genius and real 
beauty. It is, or should be, sung by an all-male cast, 
but this was varied with the composer's connivance 
by the American impresario Oscar Hammerstein, 
whom we shall meet in London in 1911-1912. At 
this time Kirkby Lunn was singing as Carmen, 
tunefully and lusciously, but hardly dramatically. 
Scotti took Escamillo and Lafitte, who had appeared in 
Le Jongleur, Don Jos 6. 

Cornelius's Der Barbier von Bagdad, and Poldini's 
Der Vagabund und die Prinzessin may be dismissed with 
a bare mention, and Gluck's Armide was produced 
with Br6val in the title role, with Lafitte, Kirkby Lunn 
and others. 

In the autumn season, Melba again opened, this 
time in Rigoletto, with an unfortunate tenor who was 
given his ticket home on the following morning, and 
if the same course had been taken with at least two 
other male singers who were to afflict us for several 
seasons, the pencilled advice to the management to be 
seen on the walls of the staircase leading to the upper 
regions would have been unnecessary. Another tenor 
for Rigoletto was Fernando Carpi, who sang with 
Suzanne Adams, and a baritone named Scandiani 
appeared to have the exclusive rights in the role of 
Escamillo in Carmen for some time to come. Two 
events of importance must be noted. One was the un- 
heralded appearance of Maria Gay as a new and 


Indian Summer 

altogether different Carmen, which created almost 
as much of a sensation as did the debut of Tetrazzini 
a year later. She was wild, wayward and primitive, 
making the interpretations of Calv6 and de Lussan 
almost lady-like by comparison. Maria Gay was 
Spanish, rather short and squat, thickly built, and 
neither beautiful nor plain. Her voice was a true 
contralto, and she sang well; but it was the breath- 
taking tempestuousness of a tiger-cat in a rage which 
contrasted so fiercely with the tameness of Kirkby 
Limn, although the latter sang even better. I should 
provoke controversy if I said that she was the last of the 
great Carmens, so I will content myself with thinking it. 

The other event was the London premiere of Gior- 
dano's Fedora, in which Giachetti looked imposing and 
magnificent in her ball-dress, with an aigrette in her 
hair, and manipulating a large fan, while Zenatello 
addressed his Amor ti vieta to her. Being a famous 
Sardou drama, Fedora gave Giachetti full scope for 
her great histrionic talents. 

Ite opera cannot be described as a good one- 
being little more than a spoken drama with musical 
accompaniment, in which the fragmentary aria Amor 
ti vieta provides a charming moment. There can be 
traced a definite deterioration temporarily at any 
rate in this season, for a number of very indifferent 
singers of both sexes were cast in leading roles. Butter- 
fly continued as so sure an attraction that it was found 
possible, if a dubious expedient, to employ a tenor 
who was less than the weight which the job required; 
which, indeed, was what marred Maria Gay's per- 
formances in Carmen. With Suzanne Adams, however, 
as the most perfect of Micaelas, one could feel more 
than satisfied* 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

There was a winter season in January and February 
devoted to German opera, which, was generally well 
done. Arthur Nikisch conducted a Tristan sung by 
Litvinne and van Dyck, who was the impresario for 
this season, with Marie Brema as Brangane. Herold 
returned to sing a beautiful Lohengrin in a perform- 
ance of the highest merit, Aino Ackte making a 
London dtbutfrom the Paris Op6ra as Elsa, and at once 
establishing herself as a top-rank artist. Marie Brema 
was a quite terrifying Ortmd, Theodor Bertram was 
Telramund, and Dr Felix von Krauss a sonorous and 
magnificent King. 

For the second time at Govent Garden a well- 
meant but always misdirected attempt was made to 
induce English opera-goers to accept the bucolic 
delights of Smetana's The Bartered Bride, but, on this 
as on subsequent occasions, the number of those who 
found enjoyment in this prancing of peasantry was 

The very eminent violinist Ysaye conducted Beet- 
hoven's Fidelia with Leffler-Burchardt in the name part. 
Der Freischiltz was given three times, but Die Meister- 
singer, although sung by Minnie Nast, H6rold, and 
Feinhals, and several other well-known singers, 
seemed to miss something essential. The season 
introduced the heldentenor Ernst Kraus, who was 
reckoned to be among the finest Siegfrieds. He 
sang in the opening performance of Die Meister singer, 
with Bosetti as Eva, in Der Freischiitz, and in Lohengrin, 


Indian Summer 

with Agnes Nicholls as Elsa. On the last night The 
Merry Wives of Windsor by Nicolai was given, with 
Max Lofling as Falstaff. 

There was a tragic event after the season when the 
lesser members of the company lost their lives in the 
wreck of the Berlin, in a fog off the Hook of Holland, 
when returning home. 

In time for the summer season, Neil Forsyth was 
appointed General Manager of Govent Garden, and 
Percy Pitt as Musical Director. Caruso and Bond 
both sang, and Bassi made his London debut. He 
was a good tenor in the Italian style without being 
comparable with the best, and sang in a revival of 
Ponchielli's La Gioconda, in which Destinn took the 
title role, with Edna Thornton, Kirkby Lunn and 
Sammarco. Catalani's Loreley had two performances, 
which offered the odd combination of two of the most 
strongly contrasted soprano voices ever to be heard; 
for the titie role was sung by Mme Scalar, who made 
one regret one's animadversions on Giachetti, and that 
of Anna by Selma Kurz, who may have been Melba's 
very equal. 

The autumn season introduced the young John 
McCormack as a singer of opera, beginning as 
Turridu in Cavalleria. He was never more than 
fairly successful in opera in England, for, although he 
possessed a technique second to none and a high 
sense of art when taking himself seriously, there was a 
nasal bleat which to the ears of many spoilt the pleasure 
of listening to him. Later he moved to America where 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

he became an American citizen, and enjoyed a univer- 
sal popularity which was said, in point of box-office 
returns, to have exceeded even that of Caruso him- 
self. To us it was something of a mystery. 

The return of Maria Gay sent the number of 
Garment rocketing to 12, and the addition of Vignas to 
the cast vastly improved the performances: it was a 
gesture to the audiences that was overdue. There was 
otherwise a good deal of indifferent singing, however, 
although the Fonotipia Record Company were well 
represented by good singers such as Bassi, the basso 
Luppi, Litvinne, de Luca and Sammarco. But a 
miasma of inertia seemed to be creeping in, which, 
however, was sensationally blown away when, as a 
bolt from the blue, or more aptly as a gleam through 
the murk, Luisa Tetrazzini flashed Aphrodite- 
like to grace the operatic scene. In sober truth, 
there was nothing of Aphrodite about Tet, as she was 
soon to be known, for she was no longer young, but 
although quite unknown to the public in general, it 
was obvious at once that she was no stranger to 
operatic managements. The secret was well kept 
until the night of her appearance, which was in La 
Traviata, at which an evidently well-primed press was 
assembled in full force, and with the breakfast news- 
papers the "New Patti" was acclaimed in headlines 
without a dissentient. Tetrazzini had a real triumph, 
and actually unseated Melba for the season of 1909. 
Her voice was a soprano leggiero of an entrancing 
quality^ and her secret, apart from her astounding 
acrobatics, lay in her consistent use of a tender legato, 
pleasantly metallic, and of great carrying power 
without visible effort. I heard her in the following 
summer, when I will refer to her again. 


Indian Summer 

Franchetti's Germania was heard for the first time in 
London, and sung by Giachetti, Bassi and Sammarco. 
It had two performances only and was never repeated. 
This may have been unfortunate, for the opera had a 
success when produced at the Scala, Milan, and the 
principals at that world premiere Pinto, Caruso and 
Sammarco all left records of passages from the score 
which do more than suggest a genuine lyrical and 
dramatic invention. With all her undoubted skill and 
talent, Giachetti was a wrong choice for the launching 
of a new opera in London. A second-grade opera 
with a third-grade cast can never hope for much 
success with us, excellent though, in this instance, 
Sammarco most undoubtedly was. 


In the winter at the beginning of 1908 the Ring was 
given in English at Covent Garden by an almost 
entirely English-speaking cast. The American bass- 
baritone Whitehill was the inevitable choice for 
Wotan; Walter Hyde was a first-class English Sieg- 
mund, Agnes Nicholls was Sieglinde and the Briinn- 
hilde of Siegfried; the Norwegian singer Borghild 
Brynn was the Brunnhilde of The Valkyrie, and 
Perceval Allen was the Briinnhilde of The Twilight. 
Cornelius, a Dutchman who was best heard as Sieg- 
mund, sang the two Siegfrieds. The grand English 
bass Robert Radford was Fasolt and Hunding, and 
Charles Knowles Father and Hagen. The two cycles 
were rehearsed and conducted by Hans Richter, and 
the enterprise was generally approved, although 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

exactly why that immense amount of trouble was 
thought to be necessary when the Ring was always on 
call when required is not altogether clear. 

The summer season of 1908 reached a new peak 
after a somewhat bleak period, and without com- 
paring it with anything that had gone before, I am 
certain that nothing like it was ever reached again. 
Ever since the autumn of last year every opera-goer 
had been impatiently awaiting Tetrazzini's return, 
and wondering what Melba would do about it. In 
the event, Melba sailed serenely through her twen- 
tieth Covent Garden season sure as ever of her un- 
assailable position, while Tet* filled the house as 
never since the days of Patti. Regulations were easier 
then than now, and many thought it worth while 
to sit or stand in the passages or on the stairs outside 
the auditorium rather than go home disappointed. 
Inside, the feeling of the house was one of intense 
excitement, and on the Barbiere nights, especially when 
Bonci was singing alternately with McCormack, 
the cup was indeed full. c Tet 5 was marvellous, 
Bonci an excellent Almaviva without approaching de 
Lucia, but Sammarco was less well fitted as Figaro, 
although singing the music powerfully and fluently, 
and the patter of all concerned was well forward on 
the lips of the singers. Neither of the comedy party 
was specially effective, Gilibert as Bartolo being 
heavy and clumsy, and Marcoux, as ever, lacking in 
natural humour. Bizet's Pescatori di Perk was sung by 
the same cast, although hardly with the same effect. 
In Lucia di Lammermoor, Traviata, and Rigoletto crowds 


Indian Summer 

came to hear 'Tet', and in later seasons Delibes's 
Lakmi and Bellini's La Sonnambula were added to the 
older favourites, but the Pescatori di Perk was dropped, 
without anybody being conscious of any great loss. 

Although Caruso was absent, there were Zenatello, 
Marak and Garbin, of whom, as we have said, Zena- 
tello was outstanding, and it was in that season that 
he began his wonderful career as the finest Otello 
of the century after Tamagno, to the Desdemona of 
Melba and the lago of Scotti with McGormack as 
Cassio. I heard this production twice within a fort- 
night, and was much moved by it. Melba and Scotti 
were of course old hands at their roles, but Zenatello, 
singing Otello for the first time, astounded all by the 
vigour and fire of his singing and acting. The test of 
his voice may be taken from the fact that his "Esul- 
tate!" on making his entrance at the unfavourable 
position at the back of the stage, where by tradition 
he should remain, rang through the auditorium like a 
trumpet, and to the end of the opera he never faltered 
or flagged, although managerial indulgence was asked 
on account of threatened hoarseness, which happily 
did not materialize. As an actor, Zenatello had always 
impressed, but in this major Shakespearian character 
he could have taught English actors something. 
Some records which were taken during a performance 
of Otello nearly twenty years later show clearly enough 
that there was no difference in the vigour and power 
of his singing. Before this, he had never really given 
any indication of the terrific power that was latent 
in him, but as he sang the role for something like 25 
years, it was obviously not damaging to his voice. 

There was a gala in honour of the President of the 
French Republic, with the first act of the Pmatori di 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Perle sung by Tetrazzini, McCormack, Sammarco 
and Marcoux, and the second act of Faust (meaning 
the garden scene) with Melba, Zenatello, Marcoux, 
Caroline Hatchard (a delightful singer), and Edna 

New personal appearances included, besides Marak 
and Garbin, Lina Gavalieri and Louise Edvina, the 
latter making her debut in Faust with Bond; she was 
to make history a year later, when we will relate her 
strange career. 

In a late winter season in English of a quasi- 
American character, Mme Saltzmann-Stevens made 
her d&but in Opera as the Briinnhilde in Siegfried. 
This young American artist had great advantages, 
being tall, slim and unusually beautiful. Her voice 
was sweet and powerful, and she quickly became a 
favourite with Wagnerians. Her Siegfried was Peter 
Cornelius, who in this role was adequate rather than 
strikingly fine, the Wanderer being Whitehill, who 
was better suited. Richter conducted this, as well as 
three cycles of an English Ring and Die Meistersinger 
also in English. The latter, on paper, looks a little 
dreary, but in the Ring there were many excellent 
English-speaking artists, among whom were Francis 
Maclennan, an American tenor who was previously in 
an English Faust y and who was one of the best Fausts 
of my experience; also another American, Florence 
Easton, a great dramatic soprano, to share with Saltz- 
mann-Stevens, the Briinnhildes and Sieglindes, and 


Indian Summer 

the American Whitehill as Wotan. The very English 
Radford was the Hunding. 

Madama Butterfly was given five times with Florence 
Eastern, Maclennan and Frederic Austin a cast that 
promised an exceptional performance: the only other 
production being a premiere (and derntire) of Edward 
Naylor's The Angelus. 

At Covent Garden at this point we can look for a 
dull period until Thomas Beecham got fully into his 
stride, except for a few flashes of the old time brilliance. 
The opening night saw the London premise of Saint- 
Saeus' much awaited opera Samson et Dalilah, which 
hitherto had been under the Lord Chamberlain's 
ban on account of its Biblical background. We have 
already seen how the ban was circumvented in the 
case of Massenet's Herodiade, and shall later see that 
it was to be lifted from Wagner's Parsifal; in each case 
one was left wondering whether it would not have 
been better to have allowed all these to go unbanned 
rather than to have brought our national institutions 
into ridicule. Of course the commonplace seduction 
story of Samson et Ddilah is completely free from any 
religious atmosphere, and the same may be said for 
the music, which, except in a few places, is as common- 
place as the story. The first performance nearly 
foundered on its sheer badness, always excepting the 
gloriously sung Dalilah of Kirkby Lunn. Later, 
Paul Franz, a Belgian tenor, improved matters by 
his powerful Samson, but the excess of cheapness in 
this score must stand in the way of any work of real 

Of another calibre was the London pnmtire of 
Charpentier's magnificent music-drama Louise, a 
vast work which was produced and sung to perfection, 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

even on its first performance, with Louise Edvina 
scoring the triumph of her career in the title-role, 
Dalmores the best of Juliens, and Charles Gilibert 
displaying late in life quite unsuspected powers as a 
powerful actor as Louise's father. He rose to really 
great heights at the terrific climax of the opera, where 
he seemed to swell to treble life-size (and he was a big 
man) when he hurled a chair after the fleeing but 
beloved Louise. 

Having hinted at Mme Edvina's strange career as a 
singer, I will very briefly sketch its outlines. Edvina 
was an amateur singer, well known in London 
Society, who had such strong operatic ambitions that 
she persuaded Jean de Reszke, then regarded as the 
chief of teachers, at his home in Paris, to take her in 
hand and make a singer of her. It was said that she 
really had not a lot of voice, but the fact remains that 
on her appearance in 1908 as Marguerite in Faust she 
was quite evidently a finished product, and her 
absolute triumph as Louise is still looked back upon as 
the prototype interpretation. Of course there have 
been excellent Louises, including Mary Garden, but 
a comparison of the records left by each of the air 
Depuis lejour will show clearly the difference between a 
Parisian and a non-Parisian type of feeling. But here 
is the point it was not a difference between Mary 
Garden and Edvina but between Garden and Jean 
de Reszke, for the tenderness, the passion, the almost 
unbearable yearning and the perfection of the phras- 
ing must be ascribed to de Reszke rather than to any 
gifted amateur. The next step in the story is that on 
the death of Jean de Reszke, Edvina was finished as a 
singer; not even in musical comedy could she make a 
success. Readers of du Maurier's classic novel of the 

Indian Summer 

Paris Latin Quarter will at once recall the story of 
Trilby and Svengali, although anybody less like the 
greasy genius than the much-loved Jean could not 
exist. It is a fact (I believe) that Edvina kept in con- 
stant touch with her teacher (as did even Melba) be- 
fore making important appearances; everything she 
did was drilled into her, and very well she did it. 

Another premiere was that of PelUas et Melisande, 
Debussy's opera on Maeterlinck's drama, at which I 
was also present. Edvina was the Melisande and 
Edmond Warnery, who had given a beautiful per- 
formance of the Noctambulist in Louise, the Pelleas. 
Over that night I prefer to be silent; and much the 
same may be said of d'Erlanger's Tess, based (app- 
arently) on Hardy's Tess of the d 9 Urbervilles. Destinn 
was the Tess, with Riccardo Martin, an American 
tenor who was good on his upper register, and Sam- 
marco useful as ever. There were a great many other 
people whom I failed to identify. 

Finding themselves in possession of the invaluable 
Tetrazzini in her second "Grand" season, the Syndi- 
cate decided that the occasion would serve for another 
grand revival of Les Huguenots, and the cast was: 
Queen, Tetrazzini; Valentina, Destinn; Urbano, 
Alice O'Brien; Raoul, Zenatello; de Nevers, Scotti; 
San Bris, Journet; Marcello, Davey. Good, but not 
quite good enough, and here we see one of the cracks 
in the operatic edifice that followed the peak season of 
1908. There is some analogy between Les Huguenots 
and Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, in that, in the palmy 
days of each, it was known and recognised that any 
flaw in the casting spelt ruin, and that the finest 
talent, not merely the best available, was the minimum 
requirement. When these conditions ceased to be 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

observed, the first trickle of the avalanche had started. 
In this instance the weak spot was the Urbano, much 
as the first weakness in a London Der Rosenkavalier 
was to be the Sophie, in the late 'thirties. Urbano 
carries a load of tradition, requiring brilliance in 
voice, acting and appearance, and it can be a stimu- 
lating sight to see the self-assured young Court Page 
taking his own time and method of addressing the 
glittering assembly. It was much too early to begin 
criticising 'TetV appearance, perched up on her 
throne presiding charmingly over her Court of 
beauty, grace and pleasure (I fancy she describes it as 
a court of love as well, but we will let that pass). But 
the effect of seeing a lovely Queen together with a 
brilliant Urbano was missing on this occasion; and 
Murray Davey, although having a fine basso pro- 
fundo, was lacking in that particular style which picks 
out the really first-class artist. Zenatello was a perfect 
Raoul, having an unforced and gracious manner and of 
course a glorious voice. There is a lot of handshaking 
throughout the earlier scenes of this opera, in laudable 
attempts to ingratiate the Protestants with the 
Catholics and vice versa; but with so stiff a Catholic as 
San Bris around, and so provocative a Protestant as 
Marcello, who, at a Catholic reception, demonstrates 
how he would like to be in a position to shoot every 
Catholic in sight, we could make a fairly shrewd 
guess at where this opera was leading us and we 
were right, despite all the handshaking. 

Les Huguenots was given again in the following year 
with slight variations in the cast, but that was the last 
time it was to be heard in London in anything re- 
sembling a worthy manner. 


Indian Summer 


And now enter Thomas Beecham! He took 
Covent Garden for a month in February and March, 
and opened with Strauss's Elekfra, which had a prodi- 
gious success. This was due partly to much advance 
publicity, which could have filled the house several 
times over, partly to the tenseness of the drama, and 
very largely to the excellence, one might say, super- 
excellence, of the performance. Edyth Walker, who 
had been heard ten years previously in contralto 
parts, had since trained in Vienna, and had become a 
dramatic soprano of the top class, and she sang the 
music of Elektra to perfection. But the chief honours 
went to Anna von Mildenburg for her uncanny and 
rather dreadful Klytemnestra, in which every evil 
quality of which the female of the species is capable 
was relentlessly and most faithfully portrayed. That 
so tender an Isolde could turn into so brutal a Kly- 
temnestra was surely great art. For myself, I made 
little of this entirely new idiom at a first hearing, and 
fled to an underground wine shop to recover; but 
another visit in this season revealed much of the 
work's real beauty, and a third in the following Bee- 
cham season accomplished my final conversion. 

Beecham conducted, I think without a score, and 
without ever having seen the opera in production. 
This may be true or not, I cannot remember; but on 
March 12 and 15, the composer, at Beecham's in- 
vitation, came over to conduct the work, only stipu- 
lating for several rehearsals. In the event, after one 

p [ 225 ] 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

short rehearsal, Strauss handed out what must have 
been the greatest compliment ever paid by one musi- 
cian to another, when he informed the orchestra that 
their director had left him nothing further to teach 

Debussy's early work L Enfant Prodigue had another 
Biblical theme, though it failed to attract the attention 
of the censor, perhaps because he took it to be the same 
as that of Wormser's mime play of the same name; 
but that is merely surmise. It preceded Humper- 
dinck's Hansel und GreteL Ethel Smythe's The Wreckers, 
sung in what the audiences were given to understand 
was English, by two foreign male principals, and 
conducted by Bruno Walter, must surely be that 
distinguished musician's unhappiest memory. Edyth 
Walker sang the leading female role, but not even she 
could do anything with a work that seemed chaotic 
at worst and uneven at best. 

For the sake of coherence, let us telescope this first 
Beecham season with a much longer autumn season 
in the same year. This was remarkable in many ways, 
and partly for the number of novel works put on and 
immediately abandoned before being given a chance 
to prove themselves. Chief among these was Ambroise 
Thomas's Hamlet, which had its traditional single 
performance, although not for the same causes. 
Beecham just got tired of it as soon as it was rehearsed, 
notwithstanding the really distinguished casting. The 
Ophelia was Mignon Nevada, a pupil of her mother 
Emma Nevada; the Queen was Z61ie de Lussan; 
Radford was Claudius; Walter Hyde was Laertes; 
and Clarence Whitehall was Hamlet. It all seemed 
rather wasteful, as I heard all about it from Z&ie de 
Lussan and Mignon Nevada. 


Indian Summer 

I must here add that Mignon Nevada made a very 
fine career. Her blonde beauty and ingenuous 
demeanour captured all hearts. As a singer she was a 
finished product at her debut in Rome, as Rosina in 
the Barbiere; Patti travelled across Europe to be present 
and de Lucia and de Luca turned out in her honour to 
sing the leading roles. When all were dressed ready 
for the curtain, Mignon, who was overflowing with 
eager anticipation, seeing de Lucia huddled in a 
cloak and evidently unhappy, said to her mother, 
"Look at Fernando, he is trembling : why ?" Fernando 
overheard, and said "This child is on the first step of 
her career, and I am at the end of mine, with every- 
thing to lose, and she wonders why I tremble !" It was 
likely that the tenor had in mind how cruel Italian 
audiences could be to old and beloved artists when they 
begin to fail. This is the essential difference between 
Italian audiences and English, who will never throw 
overboard a singer they have once loved. 

One more story: Mignon sang privately before 
Mme Mathilde Marchesi, her mother's teacher. The 
old lady was over 90 and inclined to wander. After 
her mother Emma had given the necessary explana- 
tions of what was going forward, Mignon started the 
aria Batti, Batti. "Stop", said Marchesi: "Two T's in 
Batti!" (A free lesson to all singers!) 

If Mignon sang her Olimpia in Offenbach's Les 
Contes d 9 Hoffmann at each performance, as I believe 
she did, she sang no fewer than 20 times in the season, 
which was a good record for a debutante. This was the 
first performance of this opera at Covent Garden^and 
it was an immediate success, being put on 13 times 
with de Lussan outstanding as GiuHetta. 

The success of Elektra was repeated with fewer 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

performances than in the spring, and on the strength 
of it, the same composer's Salomt was staged in a 
sumptuous fashion. The role of Herod was sung by 
Ernst Kraus, with much the same frightfulness as 
von Mildenburg had given to her Klytemnestra. 
Ackt6 was the Salom6. I did not like it, and a second 
hearing confirmed my judgment. However, it had ten 
performances in this season against Elektra's four. 
But its succes d'estime did not endure, and apparently, 
once public curiosity as to what Salom6 would wear or 
not wear had been satisfied, the interest waned. 

This was Maggie Teyte's first season of opera: 
other well-known British singers included John Coates, 
Joseph O'Mara, both first class singers, Beatrice La 
Palme, Ruth Vincent, Frederic Austin, Harry Dearth, 
Edna Thornton and Maurice D'Oisly. 

Jaques Urlus was an outstanding Tristan, as was 
Rraus, and among the Isoldes were von Mildenburg, 
Thila Plaichinger and Edyth Walker. But Milden- 
burg's voice had suffered from the strain of Klytem- 
nestra, and it was Walker whose Isolde led the field 
at that date. I also heard Aino Ackt6 as Senta in The 
Flying Dutchman, with Austin, excellent as always, in 
the title role. 

On the occasion when I saw von Mildenburg's 
Isolde, until we were actually in our seats and received 
our (free) programmes, the singer of the role of 
Tristan had not been publicly announced. We read 
the name of "Doctor B ", which was quite 
unknown. My neighbour, a very regular opera-goer, 
gloomily opined that a tenor doctor could never be 
any use basses were different and he was right. 
If any of my readers with a humming acquaintance 
with Tristan's music were to be suddenly called upon 

Indian Summer 

to dress up and sing the role without rehearsal, they 
would almost certainly feel much of what this poor 
martyr must have felt. He was so persistently off 
pitch that Mildenburg in her scenes with him found it 
impossible to keep in tune herself, and for the first 
and only time at Govent Garden I heard a loud and 
prolonged whistle from behind me. 

An analysis of Beecham's aims and objects through- 
out this chaotic autumn season would surely baffle the 
opera statisticians. Following the opening, with the 
elaborate and never repeated Hamlet, there were seven 
performances of Carmen, with, among others, Ottilie 
Metzger who also sang Herodias in Salomt with 
John Coates rather out of his metier as Don Jos 6; three 
of Clutsam's A Summer Night, which served as make- 
weight for Hansel und Gretel, and which I could make 
nothing of, but the Humperdinck work was charmingly 
sung with Ruth Vincent, until this year a very 
distinguished singer in light opera, as Gretel, with a 
cleverly acted if less vocal Hansel in Muriel Terry- 
One performance sufficed for PelUas et Melisande to 
provide a vehicle for Maggie Teyte, but seven Fausts 
were given in Italian with Maggie Teyte very differ- 
ently employed in singing Margherita, which she 
shared with Mignon Nevada, who also sang in the two 
performances of // Barbiere with Giuseppe de Luca as 
Figaro, and as Gilda in three Rigokttos, in addition to 
Olimpia, as already recorded. Don Giovanni was also 
given, with de Luca as the Don. 

D J Albert's Tiefland had five performances to empty 
houses it was one of Beecham's foibles, like Delius 
but Tannhduser had six, with Forchhammer, and 
Edyth Walker alternating with the versatile Petz- 
Perard who doubled the two women's roles ; Urlus and 


The Age of Jean de, Reszke 

Marguerite Lemon ; and Kraus, with Thila Plaichenger 
also doing the double act. There were two rather 
terrible performances in German with an English 
cast of Fidelio, at one of which I was unlucky in 
missing Edyth Walker, and hearing in her place a 
very courageous lady who was ill-prepared. Leroux's 
Le Chemineau had two performances, and Massenet's 
Wertker one. Those who are good at sums may 
experiment in reckoning what the season cost. 

We may return briefly to the summer season of 1 9 1 o, 
which opened quietly enough, with McCormack and 
Donalda in Traviata. Melba, who last year was 
absent for the only time in her 30 years at Covent 
Garden, returned to sing in La Bohtme, and shared 
the routine works with Tetrazzini. Lakm& was put on 
for Tetrazzini, although one may doubt whether the 
public greatly cared what the opera was so long as she 
was singing. There was little worth remembering 
that was new. 

The Royal Opera was now just jogging along. 
Kirkby Lunn was again singing Carmen. Puccini's 
La Fandulla del West was given its London premiere 
with Destinn, Bassi, and Gilly, a mediocre baritone 
who did not recompense us for the absence of Scotti, 
who had been away for two years. Gilly got a lot of 
work, but was no more than fairly competent, and 
Puccini's opera, as all now know, was of no account. 


Indian Summer 

A more interesting premiere was of Wolf-Ferrari's 
altogether charming short opera // Segreto di Susanna, 
in which Sammarco gave one of the performances of 
his career. As the suspicious husband he was ideally 
suited, as was Lydia Lypkowska as the charming and 
unjustly blamed wife, and the two of them kept the 
trifling but amusing little play right up to pitch until 
it literally ended in smoke. This opera formed part 
of a programme which included the Diaghilev 
Russian Ballet; although not a balletomane, I did see 

Massenet's Thais at length arrived at Covent 
Garden in this season, making a somewhat shame- 
faced premise late in July, and this despite the seduc- 
tive presence of Lina Gavalieri in 1908. But it had no 
better luck than any of this composer's richly senti- 
mental works have had in London, and was not 
revived until 1919. Louise Edvina (on both these 
dates) received her usual tribute of admiration, and 
doubtless fully deserved it: she had grace and poise 
and was admirably built for a spectacular role, but 
one could guess only too well what an English audience 
would make of it! 

The Gala for the Coronation of King George V and 
Queen Mary provides another reminder of the down- 
ward drift. A Coronation was no occasion for a 
shoddy and makeshift show, but this was the shoddiest 
and most makeshift Gala in these annals. Admittedly 
resources in singers for this season were less than usual, 
but at least one singer of merit Charles Dalmor&s 
was not used. The programme opened with the 
processional scene in Aida, with Destinn and Kirkby 
Lunn correctly in their places, although they have 
little to do in this scene beyond making themselves 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

heard over the prodigious volumes of sound emitted by 
the ensemble, to say nothing of an orchestra well on the 
way to drowning them all. (Campanini was the 
conductor.) But the men were very ordinary Bassi 
as Radames, Gilly as Amonasro, Sibariakoff (whom 
I cannot identify) as Ramphis, and Huberdeau, a bass 
with no centre to his notes, as the King. Then came 
the inevitable balcony scene in Romlo et Juliette with 
Melba and Franz, who was a vigorous and excellent 
Romeo, but less pleasing than Dalmorfes, and the 
third act of // Barbiere, with Tetrazzini, McGormack 
and Sammarco, Pitt conducting the French excerpt 
and Panizza the Italian. Some Russian ballet wound 
up these rather depressing proceedings, which were a 
credit to nobody in particular. 

There was an autumn season at Govent Garden 
much as usual; but the success of Hansel und Gretel 
brought forth the same composer's Konigskinder, 
which was an altogether different proposition. A very 
distinguished Viennese soprano, Luise Petzl-Perard, 
had been singing Wagnerian roles with much success, 
and we shall meet her again in Der Rosenkavalier. 

It was then, after diligent preparation, that I made 
my first reverence to the Ring, seeing it through twice, 
and for ao years it served me well. Van Rooy sang 
throughout, and in the cycle in which Hensel was the 
Siegfried, I saw and heard the finest of my experience. 
Cornelius was a good Siegmund, but spared himself 
in the ordeal of Siegfried. 

The autumn of 191 1 and the spring of 1912 saw the 
extraordinary intervention of Oscar Hammerstein, 

Indian Summer 

the American impresario, whose well-nigh incredible 
career has been well told in* a recent book, Oscar 
Hammerstein I, by Vincent Sheenan. 

In time for the advertized opening night on 
November 13, Hammerstein had at his own expense 
built the sumptuous London Opera House on Kings- 
way, now known as the Stoll Theatre. It was credibly 
circulated at the time that Hammerstein had said that 
London the cradle and foster-mother of opera for 
over a century did not know what opera was like, 
and that he would show them. This piece of arrogance 
met with its just and inevitable deserts, although it 
must be at once allowed that he left us with more than 
he took away, for we heard much that was meritorious, 
if without upsetting our balance. 

Hammerstein's trump cards in his considerable pack 
were the tenor Orville Harrold, whom he relied upon 
to counterbalance Caruso, and Felice Lyne, a nine- 
teen-year-old American coloratura soprano. Harrold 
was in truth a fine tenor of the ringing kind not 
exactly robusto, but with plenty of voice: I heard him 
only in Rigoletto. Felice Lyne was a pretty little 
creature and was quite astonishing, singing with the 
ease and freedom of a bird, with a tiny thread of voice 
of that carrying and "floating" quality to which I am 
so susceptible, but success came perhaps too easily to 
her, for her fame did not endure. She caused a real 
furore, and when she and Harrold sang together in 
Rigoletto the house was full. I did not hear of her 
again, until 20 years later I saw her name topping the 
bill at a provincial music-hall, which I did not attend. 

All of Hammerstein's singers were new to London 
excepting Renaud, who had not been heard there for 
several years, and now returned to give his usual 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

distinction to every role he undertook. He sang at the 
opening night in Nougu&s's Quo Vadis? a daring choice 
for London, for the opera had been heard only in 
Paris previously, and had little to offer besides 
spectacle, and this was provided in full measure. The 
leading soprano was Victoria Per (not Aline Vallandri 
as stated in Sheenan's book), who turned out to be a 
fine singer with a voice produced on Marches! lines. 

The opening night was a social success for Hammer- 
stein, for all Society attended. Royally were absent 
from the country a sad blow to the impresario but 
ducal, aristocratic and ambassadorial circles attended 
in force, and the event was one of the highspots of 
the season, though what they all thought of the fare 
provided is not on record. On the second night 
Orville Harrold was launched as Arnoldo in Guillaume 
Tell. He was duly admired, but I think the opera was 
given only this once in this season, and once again in 
the spring season. Norma followed, with Victoria 
Fer, and Faust, Lucia and Hfrodiade, in which last 
work Renaud was the Herod, as at Covent Garden in 
1904, with Lina Gavalieri as Salome and Marguerite 
d s Alvarez in the title role, making an unusually 
handsome pair. Hammerstein was said to favour 
d* Alvarez, and caused the lovely Cavalieri many 
heart-burnings by placing her rival in the best 
advertising positions. 

I recall hearing Les Contes d 9 Hoffmann, which was one 
of the few financially successful productions, with 
Renaud, Felice Lyne and Victoria Fer; but the 
Giulietta was weak, and an unfamiliar version was 
used, the beautiful ensemble in the Venetian scene 
being omitted altogether, as has happened lately. 
There was Louise, in which Aline Vallandri alternated 


Indian Summer 

with Victoria Fer, and gave an excellent rendering. 
This beautiful person was said to possess a head of 
hair which reached to her anJdes, and, be that as it 
may, it looked very imposing piled up on the top of her 
head in the fashion of the day. Jean Auber was a good 
enough Julien, but here again a vital and incompre- 
hensible omission was made, this time of the night 
scene on Montmartre, with the attractive passages for 
the Noctambulist. Massenet's Don Quichotte was an 
interesting novelty, if chiefly for the quite uncannily 
exact portrait of the sorrowful Knight by the French 
bass Lafont, who exactly realized the conceptions of 
all lovers of the classic novel, and the no less perfect 
embodiment of Sancho by Jos6 Danse. The music, 
however, excepting in the last act (which in the 
original score contained no female voice), was Massenet 
at his worst, but the staging was excellent, in particular 
the scene of the windmills, which were seen beyond a 
wood, and which the Don charged at a full gallop into 
the wings; a second later we saw horse and man 
hurled into the air in the distance, though apparently 
suffering no inconvenience, as both reappeared in later 
performances. The same composer's Le Jongleur de 
Notre Dame was given in the form in which the com- 
placent composer, to appease Hammerstein, had now 
approved; that was by replacing the tenor lead by a 
soprano in the male part. It was inexcusable, but 
had been accepted in New York by virtue of the 
compelling personality of Mary Garden, who was 
Hammerstein's staunch colleague and friend in his 
New York ventures. Unhappily she had refused to 
come with him to London, and it cannot be said that 
Victoria Fer reconciled us to the innovation; nor were 
other roles outstandingly well sung, sometimes indeed 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

quite the contrary; but the undeniable beauty of 
the score was there, if the pathos of scene was lacking. 
For convenience I have welded the autumn and 
spring seasons into one. Other works which were 
heard were Mignon, La Favorita, H Trovatore (in which 
Gennaro de Tura was admired, as Manrico, and 
Augusta Doria was not), Planquette's Les Cloches de 
Corneville, II Barbiere, and a weird work by Josef 
Holbrooke, The Children of Don, for which a wealthy 
English peer had provided both the libretto and the 
funds; this hopeless production was, as events turned 
out, the last of Hammerstein's ventures into Grand 
Opera. There is much to regret, and the London 
venture might have had a different story to tell had it 
not been for Hammerstein's obtuseness and lack of 
tact, and his obstinate refusal to bow to London's 
peculiar foibles; but without them he would not have 
been Hammerstein, and there would have been no 
venture. He lost, by his own account, a matter of 
20,000 of his own, which would not include large 
sums put up by wealthy backers. It is sad to bid 
farewell to this maddening, stubborn, fascinating and 
most spectacular figure, who never seemed able to 
complete what he began. 


This was not a good year for Covent Garden, 
except that Giovanni Martinelli made his London 
debut, and became a general favourite. He and 
Edvina sang much together, with or without 


Indian Summer 

For the first time since its London premttre in 1863, 
Faust was not played, and I am afraid it has never been 
the same since. A really good Faust is something to 
remember, but* it is generally under-sung, and lately 
(not at Govent Garden) it has been much abused as 
has been Les Contes d? Hoffmann. For the latter, some- 
body discovered the original score, which was hooted 
off the stage at its world premitre, and hastily re- 
written into the success that it remained. Now, before 
visiting this opera, it is well to ascertain which of these 
scores will be used. 

Wolf-Ferrari's fixll-length work / Giojelli ddla 
Madonna was given its London premihe, Edvina, 
Martinelli and Sammarco being the singers. 

This was a great season for Beecham, whose 
dynamic intervention in London Opera came very 
opportunely, for it is certain that the moribund 
Syndicate would not or could not venture into such 
enterprises as his. Passing with a mere mention 
revivals ofElektra, Sakmi and Tristan, we come at once 
to Der Rosenkavalier, which may perhaps be considered 
Beecham's greatest triumph. It was produced on the 
opening night one of the most brilliant in our period. 
Eva von der Osten repeated her Dresden creation of 
Oktavian, and Marguerite Siems hers of the role of the 
Princess. (I must decline to subscribe to the later 
custom of speaking of this noble and gracious lady as a 
mere Marschallin. She was the Princess von Werder- 
burg, and was so described on our programmes.) 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

Claire Dux was the incomparable Sophie, and Paul 
Kniipfer, who was much admired in the bass roles 
in the Ring, was the Ochs. Beecham provided 
alternative casts for the eight performances, all trained 
to the highest pitch, and die Princess was^lso sung by 
Petzl-Perard, Iracema Brugulmann and Cfttheil- 
Schoder. Oktavian was sung, besides, by von der 
Osten, by Hermine Bosetti, Aline Sanden and Sophie 
Wolf. Claire Dux sang throughout, and when I said 
that she was incomparable I spoke the precise truth. 
A feature of these performances was that they had no 
weak spot anywhere, and were on the highest possible 

It became the accepted thing that this always would 
be so with this work. In the immediate post-war 
period the tradition was carried on by Lotte Lehmann 
and Gertrud Kappell, who continued to play the 
Princess in the grand manner. Although Elizabeth 
Schumann was a satisfactory Sophie, the Oktavian, 
who was given much praise by a later generation of 
opera-goers, was actually rather dull. The role of 
Ochs, which had been in the competent hands of 
Paul KLniipfer and Paid Bender, now passed into 
those of Richard Mayr, who far surpassed any who 
preceded or succeeded him. It was a performance of 
genius robust, bawdy, selfish, confident and courtly, 
and with a personal expajasiveness that was irresist- 
able his fussy, restless movements caused all eyes to 
follow him. A thoroughly naughty old gentleman, or 
a revolting old beast according to how you like to 
look at it* 


Indian Summer 

The spring season of 1914 at Govent Garden was 
chiefly memorable for the London premiere of Wagner's 
Parsifal, and Wagner's rather meretricious swan song 
was produced with all the pomp and ceremony of a 
religious festival. Six Parsifals were employed for the 
fourteen performances which public curiosity 
demanded, namely Hensel, Vogel, Sembach, Urlus, 
Burrian and Hutt, and the now indispensible Eva von 
der Osten was the first Kundry, with Rusche-Endorf, 
an excellent Briinnhilde of earlier seasons, and 
Melanie Kurt. Paul Kniipfer was the garrulous 
Gurnemanz, alternating with Johannes Fonss, another 
fine artist, and Hottges ; Amfortas being sung poorly by 
Plaschke and well by Bender and van Hiilst. August 
Kiess, Hans Erwin and Jan Hemsing sang Klingsor. 

There were further Wagner productions, among 
which Claire Dux sang Eva with Hutt, Plaschke and 
Kniipfer, and Mehul's Joseph had its only production 
in London. Albert Goates, at Covent Garden for the 
first time, conducted Tristan with Eva von der Osten, 
now regarded as infallible, as Isolde, and Urlus, whose 
Tristan ranks among the highest. In sober truth, van 
der Osten was not equal to the impossible task which 
public opinion imposed upon her, although, following 
Petzl-Perard, she accomplished the then admired 
tour-de-force of singing Venus and Elizabeth in the 
same performances of Tannhauser. She was inclined to 
force her not exceptional voice and to exaggerate in 
her acting. However, she was always a safe card to 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

In the summer season Scotti gave Londoners his 
Falstaffin Verdi's master-work (as I am assured is the 
case), and with him in Don Giovanni I saw this chef 
d'oeuvre of Mozart for the last time as I wish to see it, 
with Destirm, again as Anna, and Teyte a delicate but 
light Zerlina. Mefistofele was revived for Didur, with 
Claudia Muzio and Rosa Raisa; McGormack as the 
Faust sang faultlessly in his usual timbre. Edvina sang 
in the new production of Montemezzi's UAmore dei 
tre Re. After ten years, Mozart's Jioz& di Figaro was 
revived for a summer season, with Scotti as the 
Count, Raisa the Countess, and Maggie Teyte as 
Cherubino. Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini had three 
performances, with Edvina and Martinelli in the name 
parts, and a lot of others also. 



A Modern Season 

PARTICULARLY, perhaps, at this present time, 
does the question arise in the minds of young 
opera-goers of the relative merits of past and 
present singers, and whether the claims made by us 
old stagers on behalf of the singers of our own youth 
are not the mere manifestations of advancing age. It 
is said that we heard these singers at our most im- 
pressionable period of development, and that altogether 
we are not fit judges of present-day standards. Like 
all half-truths, this denies more than it asserts, and 
really with very slight grounds for the denial. I have 
myself heard it claimed that one could not have heard 
a finer bass, or soprano than Signor or Madame 
somebody or the other an empty claim indeed, es- 
pecially since there exists a comparatively small, 
although expanding, group of specialists in the re- 
markable records made during the first decade of 
the century, which include such historic names as 
those of Patti, Albani, Maurel, Eames, Melba, 
Battistini, Plangon, and the deathless Caruso, to 
name only some. Possessors of these discs, whether 
old or very young, are in no doubt about where it is 
that true merit lies, and a careful adaptation of mod- 
ern methods of reproduction reveals these voices in a 
glory never dreamed of by those pioneers who made 
them. Arising^ out of this too, is the striking fact that 

Q, [ 

The Age of Jean de Reszke 

the first three names at least of those just mentioned 
were veterans of singing, who had been before the public 
as prime favourites for 30 or 40 years, and had little loss 
to show for them vocally, and none whatever in the 
style and manner, which survived the first world war 
only in single instances. 

How many of those apparently fresh young Italian 
voices singing today will still be singing in 30 years 9 
time? Or even in three years? During the last ten 
years I have heard singers who truly seemed to realise 
my hopes that great singing was not past and over; 
but where were they next year? Finished. A fresh 
supply seems always available glorious young voices 
many of them, but, alas, lacking the style and finish so 
unmistakable to the amateur of singing, and with a 
prodigality of production which tells its tale of in- 
sufficient training and the desire for a profitable if 
short career. The Italian season put on by Gorlitsky 
at Drury Lane in 1958 provided the usual crop of such 
singers; there was plenty of voice, but too little of style 
and finish, and it is ironic that the one singer who was 
really first rate Luigi Pontiggia received little 
more than patronising attention at the hands of the 
Press, while a soprano who was above the company's 
average, certainly, was hailed as though she were 
another Tetrazzini, which she was not. It used to be 
the practice to reserve such operas as Sonnambula, 
Lakmt, Lucia di Lammermoor for such unexpected 
appearances as the flashing entry of the beloved Tet', 
when full justice could be done to them; but that 
holds no longer, and I think we are the gainers thereby, 
as many of these 'old-fashioned' works have plenty in 
them that is meritorious and frequently quite lovely. 
They have gained in recent productions by singing 



generally superior to that which, for economy's sake, 
was provided in support of the expensive star, and 
those who heard the Italians in Lucia di Lammermoor in 
1957 are in no danger of forgetting the experience. 

I have mentioned Pontiggia, who is worth more 
than so passing a reference, for in my opinion he is 
the best singer, qua singer, to have been heard in 
England for a great number of years, for he has 
perfect control of his pleasing and truly tenor voice, 
and is a genuine exponent of that so much misused 
expression bel canto, using it with unfailing taste and 
skill. Whether in UAmico Fritz, La Sonnambula, or 
UElisir d'Amore, he was more than faintly reminiscent 
of de Lucia (already mentioned here as one of the 
greatest of singers), whom he could well have taken 
as a model, and in him may lie hope for the future, for 
his style is pure. 

It is understood that the season of 1958 was based 
largely upon the results of a poll of opera-goers, many 
of whom evidently requested works which they 
probably had never heard, or, being Italian by birth, 
were more acclimatised to them; among these was 
Guillaume Tell, an opera which was a prime favourite 
in the middle and end of the nineteenth century. Its 
later neglect was believed to have been on account 
of the impossibility of finding a tenor capable and 
willing to undertake the role of Arnoldo, but be that 
as it may, no such difficulty was apparent on this 
occasion, and it was an interesting experience to hear 
for ourselves what it was that our forebears so much 
enjoyed. But although little fault could be found 
with either production or casting, and although the 
largely foreign audience were clearly enjoying them- 
selves, one member of it at least found the music over- 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

formal, heavy, or downright dull. It was evident 
that the distinguished composer had been determined 
to write a serious opera in the heavy French style 
then prevalent, and that he was out of his element. 

The leading female role that of Mathilde is so 
negligible either musically or dramatically that its 
omission could have passed unnoticed, and, as the 
opera is over-long, Mathilde could with advantage 
be dispensed with. 

The brightest spot in my evening was in TelPs little 
son Jemmy, played by a diminutive little lady who 
acted with a detached elegance which was quite 
wonderful to behold. 

Already the dire failures of any attempts to pop- 
ularise Verdi's La Forza del Destino have been touched 
upon; the recent Italian production at Drury Lane 
leaves little room for wonder or regret for this. It is 
indeed a preposterous work, although undeniably 
entertaining to a listener with a sense of somewhat 
sardonic humour. The music is not kind either to 
tenor or baritone, who seem to regard it as a challenge 
to engage in a contest to find which can sing the louder, 
and in this production both easily qualified for first 
place. The best music is reserved for the bass and the 
soprano. The bass was capable enough, but in the 
case of the soprano one can only say that she was 
good enough to make one wish that she had been 
better. Her music should call forth the very best, and 
nothing less will really do. 

The production of Mascagni's UAmico Fritz was a 
particularly happy thought after over sixty years of 
neglect. The programme gave the interval as fifty 
years: but when Henry Russell arranged his season 
at the new Waldorf Theatre in 1905, he had arranged 



to open with this work, having specially engaged 
Galv6 for the Suzd, being in happy possession of the 
invaluable de Lucia, to whom the role of Fritz be- 
longed. However, a matter of a few hours before the 
doors were opened, Calv thought otherwise, and the 
production was of necessity dropped. The brilliant 
production of Pagliacci, preceded by Paer's // Maestro 
di Capella, was substituted. It was a sad disappoint- 
ment, for the event might well have succeeded where 
the original presentation had failed, since the furore 
over Cavalleria Rusticana had receded somewhat. This 
very delicate and altogether charming little work is 
quite unlike Cavalleria in every way. The orchestration 
is a miracle of melody, excellent taste and colour no 
hates and passions, murders or duels, and the famous 
Cherry Tree duet which most of us were hearing for 
the first time fully realised our highest hopes ; although 
why the producer in this as well as in other operas 
thought it necessary to keep the pairs of lovers at such 
excessively discreet distances apart is a question for 
him to answer. Although Cavalleria is deservedly 
deathless, it is seldom given in a worthy manner in 
our times, but had it never been written, the tale of 
DAmico Fritz might have been a totally different one. 

In the course of my 53 years of the pursuit of opera 
it is natural that I should have been asked several 
times which is my favourite. In side-stepping from 
this question I may say that never have I developed a 
dislike to any opera that I have once admired, and I 
think the reverse is also true allowing for time to 
understand a work where I felt that virtue was present. 

In my early days I was guided much by the beauti- 
fully written critiques of the late Richard Gapell, then 
of the Daily Mail, who possessed great powers of 


The Age of Jean de Reszke 

expression both of his likes and dislikes, and which he 
used to the full. It was due to his lyrical notice of 
PelUas et Melisande that I passed the most disillusioned 
and bored evening of my life, and it was due to his 
vituperative denunciations of La Traviata that I kept 
away from this work. Indeed I might never have 
heard it at all except for the lucky chance of having 
been so carried away by the truly outstanding per- 
forrnaoces of Marguerite in Faust by Margery Field, 
whom I have already mentioned, that my eagerness to 
hear her in other roles took me at long last to hear her 
Violetta, and I have heard it five times since then and 
hope to live to hear it five times more. It was then that 
I remarked to Richard Gapell (quite a reformed 
character !) that I was edified to see that he had written 
of La Traviata as 'Verdi's masterpiece', and re- 
minded him of what he used to write about it in other 
days, to which his rejoinder was, "Confound that 
memory of yours !" 

It would indeed be faintly ironic if I were at this 
time of my life, after the surgings of Rings, Tristans, 
Don Giovannis, Electros, Rosenkavdiers, to confess that 
La Traviata was my favourite after all; but I would 
stress that such a conclusion should be a crystallisation 
of all the ferments and upheavals that nature re- 
quires for the making of a pure diamond, and that it is 
only in perspective that this modest but inspired 
score appears in its pathetic beauty. 

It would be an easier question for me to say the 
operas that I have disliked, although certainly the 
answer would create some discords. I dislike Cod fan 
tutte because I find it tiresomely monotonous; I dislike 
Madama Butterfly because I find it faintly common; I 
dislike PelUas et Melisande because I find it ridiculous; 



and I dislike Die Meistersinger because it bores me to 

Until judgment is passed upon this book I cannot 
claim to be a competent commentator, but if I have 
been able to supply some details not to be found in any 
one previous publication if I have succeeded in any 
degree in making the telling of them interesting or 
entertaining, or better still, both; and, far above all, 
if I have in the few words with which I have attempted 
to do so, infused any semblance of life into those 
shadowy figures of the 'seventies, 'eighties, and 
'nineties, and have enabled my readers to distin- 
guish between what I have reconstructed from the 
experiences of others, and what I have experienced 
myself, the joy of re-living my bygone operatic days 
will be very rewarding. 



When a composer is mentioned as the composer of a certain opera, only the 
name of the opera has been indexed. All operas have been indexed under 
the names of their composers, to avoid uncertainty over the language of their 

Pro biaoolo, 18, 30. 148, 165 
Les Diamans de la Couramu, 41 

BACH, Bun.: 

The Lady of Longford, 156 

flToKsmano, 42, 47, 65* 73 

The Bohemian Girl] 147 

Catdmar, 150 

Fidelia, 41, 65, 87, 106-7, 145, 158* 163 

La Soimambula, 20, 40, 42, 49, 53, 59, 60, 
67, 72, 84, 103, 105, 116, 122, 219, 942 

Norma Plate 3. 39, 4*-2, 63, 178, 234 

Elaine, 144, 146, 156, 157 

Carmen, 18, 22, 59-62, 65, 75, 87, 89, 99. 
TOO, 103, 107, 115* II9-24* 134, 140, 148, 
156, 190, 195, 199, 203-4, 212-13, 216, 



Borro, 82 

Mejutoftk, 71, 82, 87, 90, 107, 121, 133, 

153, 163, X74, 208, 240 

Le Rfoe, 139, 140 

VAttagiuduMovKn, 156 



Louise, 156, 199, 22 x, 223, 234 

Adriana Laeawrewr, 203 

// Matrimomo Segreto, 139 

A Summer Wight, 229 

Estella, 69 

Der Barbier von Bagdad, stia 


Tiefiand, 229 

La Ptrlt dt Brisil, 103 

PeWas et Mfiuand*, 223, 229, 246 

U Enfant Prodigw, 226 

MtxaUne, 13, 22, 175-6, 187 

T7u Light of Asia, 134-3, *44 

AmyRobsart, 150 

Lakmf, 97, 219, 230, 242 
DELJUS, 229 

Inez Mendo, 167 

Tus, 223 

LesAmants d* Vtrone, 63 

LaFigUa del Reggjmenta, 18, 41, 84, 148 

Lucia di Lamnurmoor, 40, 47, 53* $5-8, 73, 
87, 107, US, 121, 123, 127, 166, 190, 195, 

Luert&a Borgia, 41, 52, 55, 63, x 15 

LaFaparita, 41, 43, 75, 105, 124, 149, 165, 


Alma Plnumtatnee, 59 
Germania, 217 


Fedora, x6x, 207, 213 

Andrea Chetder, 206 
GLDCK, 125 

Orfro, 125, 136, 138, 144, 147, 205 

Armide, 212 

n Gwram, 41 

187, ig6, 199, 20X-2, 203, 220, 222~; 
229, 234, 237, 246 

wiA ** Jtott, 55, 89, 119, 123-4, 132-3, 
136, X57, 163, 166, 170, 174, 178-9, 
7 , 195, 232 
r O_ 

" 139, 144-5, i 




LtPriaux Clares , 68 

Zempc, 68, 98 

The Children of Dm, 336 

Hansel imdGrahl, IB, 163, 165, aa6, aag 233 

Kdrngdander, 333 




/ Pto&ud. 109, 2, iS7, 149, 151. 160, 

z66, 178, 199, aoo, ao8, 345 

UOracolo, 178, 805 

L Chemneau, 330 

WldscMtt, 163 


Priritfw, z6a 
MAHLER, 149 

EroeLeandro, 177 

flip &f, 58, 60 
MASOAGNZ, 138, 148-4 

VAmco Fntt, 71, 142-5, 1 

CavaUena Rustocana, zza, 13 
i6z, 166, 177, 305, 345 

7&OT**ati, 143-4, 150 

Paul *t Virgirde, 59 

L Roi de Lotion. 63-4, 67, 69 

Le Jongleur de Noire Dame, 69, 2 12, 335 

Hirodiade, 108, aoo, aai, 334 

Le Cid, 108 

Manon, 139, 166, 191 

Werther, i4p, 154, 157, 330 

La Naearraue, 163, aoo 

Thus. 031 

Don QjnchotU, 335 

Afora <fe G^mf, 75 

aoB, 843-5 

VSranque, 186 

MBYBRBEBR, 33-4, 43, ia6 
UAfricame, 33, 30-42, 50, 59, 63, 64, 88, 

91, 115, 189 

Le Prophite, 38, xaz, 123, 124, 134, 163 
Lts Hvgutnots, 38, 42, 40, 55, 63, 63, 67, 68, 
no, lao, 133, 136, 133, 134, 136, 153, 
163, 163, 1 66, 170, 178, 180, 187, 

L'Etoile du Jford, 4z-a, w , , 

Robert It Diable, 41-3, 6z, 63-4, 67, 126 

Dinorah, 43, 59, 6a, 04, 67, 84 

VAmore dri Tre Re, 340 
MOZART. 50, 196 

Don Giovanni, 13, 23, 40, 42-3, 5O, 55, 59, 
6x, 63^4, 94, "a, 134, 145, 103, 174, 178, 
z8a, 190, Z9&-7, 207, 239, 240, 240 

Le Nozze di Figaro, 23, 46-7, 03-4, 161, 

IlFlavto Magwo, 32-3, 41, 65 
* i 149 ^ 
fe, 346 


Der Trotnpeter von S&kkingen, Z45 

TheAftny Wiw of Windsor, 215 

Qfo Vadis? 334 

Les Cmtes o?Hoffmam t 327, 334, 337 


11 Maestro di Capella, 308, 245 

Les Cloches de Content!*, 336 

Der Vagabond vnd die Prin&ssin, 2za 


La Gioconda, 90, za6, 315 
FuGGDn. 171 
La BoKtme, 33, Z75, 180, z89-9O, 195, 

198-9, 204-6, 230 
Manon Lescaut, 154-5, 20 z 
Madarna Bvtterfy, 178, 205-7, 2Z3, 32Z, 346 
La Tosca, I'jB, 180, 198, 306 
La Faneiulla del West, 330 



Crispin*) e la Conuart, 41, 139 

4O, 51, 105, 234, 243 
, 81, 

U Demomo, 8z, 90, 149 


n Batbur* di Sigtia, 40, 45-7, 59, 

87, 94, 99, 103, zo?, 109, Ha, 139, 148, 
155, 163, Z74, 195, 304, 309, 3i8, 337, 
339, 333, 236 

Semramide, 41-^, 53, 58, 96 

OteUo, 57 

La Gazza Ladra, oz 

La Caurtntola, 138 


Hftou, 19! 

Samson et] 

Tht Bartered Bride > 163, 214 
, THBL: 



AfueA Ado about Nothing, 33, 1 86 

The Veiled Prophet, 150 

JDu Fie demons , 163 

SWww, z8i, 328-9, 237 

Der Roseduojaher, 304, 333-4, 233, 237, 246 

Elektra, 325-8, 237, 346 

loanhoe, 147, Z49 


Eugene Onegin, 148, 211 

Hamlet, 38, 41, 57, 63,^33-4, 174, 226, 229 
65,73,87,5 " 


Emeralda, 24, 133-4 




VERDI, 154, 240, 246 

JM*> 32, 49, 50, 54, 59, 64, 75, 83, 87, gi, 
no, 167-8, 174, 180, 187, 198-200, 203, 

Luisa Miller, &, 41 

La Tramata, Plates 148, igi 40-1, 59, 6x, 
65, 70, 73, 90, 96, 106-7, 112-13, 161-2, 
> 174, 199, 200, 205, 210, 2x6, 2x8, 

S, 40, 47, 54, 65, 67, 75, 91, 105, 1 13, 
123, 137, 103-0, 178, 186-90, 195, 197, 

199, 3O2, 2O5, 207, 2X2, 2X8, 22Q, 233 

Un Batto in Maschera, 41, 54, 69, 196-200, 


&iwi, 41, 69, 105, 138-9, 149 
n Trooatare, 59, 75, 83, 90, 94, 96, 120, 236 
La Forta del Destmo, 72, 244 
Oto/fo, xi7, 134-5, 160, 187, 202, 219 
Falstaff, 154, 202, 240 

WAGNER, Plate 8: 14, 24, 43, 46, 47, 49, 66, 

84, 87, 1X2, 140, 145, X57-8, 164, 171, 174, 


Lohengrin, Plate 15: xx, 22, 31, 35, 39, 
43-8, 53, 63-4, 72, 83, 87, 90, 93 "O, 
131, 123, 135, 137, 132-5, 136, 140, 146, 
149, 152, 154, 157-8, 165, 177^81, 190, 

_ 197, 199, 214 

Parsifal, 12, 22 x, 239 

The Ring, Plate 8: 12, 84-6, 141, 144-5, 
158-9, 173-3, 181-3, 195, 305, 9i x, 

2X7-30, 233, 246 

WAGNER mtfn/ 
Die Walktin, 22, 152, 154, 158, 165, 168, 

Siegfried', **, 158, 154, 158, 168-9, 173-4, 

3X7, 230 

GSUerdammenrng, 173, 3X7 

Tamh&uer, 22, 4&-9, 63, 87, 93, 136, 153, 

158, 163, 170, 181, 1 86, 199, 2 ix, 229, 

The Plying Dutchmen, 23, 43, 66, 87, QI, 93, 

138-9, 152, 2x1, 228 
Die Metstersinger, 86-7, 120, 152, 156-7, 

165, 169, 170, 174, 179, 197, 199, 305, 

214, 220. 247 
Tristan vnd Isolde, 86, 93, 141, 145, 147, 

153, 158, 164, 170, 174, 182, 191-4, 199, 

303, 237, 239, 246 

Montana, 24, 75, 150 

Der FreischOtt, 23, 41, 158, 163, 214 
Oberon, 62 
Euyanthi, 86-7 
H Segrato di Susanna, 231 
/ GiojeM delta Madonna, 237 

Francesco, da Kbmm, 240 


Abbey. 106 

Ackte, 214, 228 
Adams, Suzanne, 173, 177-80, 186-7, 190, 
197, I99> 3X3-3 

Admit, 1693 

Aida, Plate 4b: 65, 88, xxo, 126, 146, 196, 

, 90-3, 98, 105, 120, 
132-6. 149, 160-6, 24X 
Albert, 15^-7, 163, 165 
Albert HaU, 189 
Alboni, 30 

Alfio, 137 
*if, '| ;._ 


Alice, 64 

Allen, Perceval, 217 

Almaviva, Counteu, 22, 63, x6x, 169, 240 
Alxnaviva, Count, 40, 46, 109, 161, 169, 218, 

r XX, 23 
_____ , 197 

Alvarez, 150, 153, 156, 162-6, 170, 175-8, 


Alvary, 144-^, 154, 157-8, 164 

Axnato, 203 

Amelia, 196, 200 

. , 73-3 
49, ^9, no, 126, 138, 180, 187, 196, 

Amonasro, 49, 54, 63, 178, 198, 333 

Amour, 205 

Ancona, xi, X49-53, 156, 161-5, 169, i75, 

X78i 3O2, 2X9 

Angekni-Fornari, 151, 203 

Anna (Loreley), 215 

Anna, Donna, 88, 166, 182, 196, 240 

Anselmi, x86, 203 

Arditi, 17, 20, 65-6, 73-4, 89, 95, 104-7, 


Azimondi, 154-5, 162, 165, 202-3, 3og 
Azmide, 212 

Armit, 74, 83 
Arnoldo, t 


Arnoldson, 94, no, 113, 144, 153, 156-7 

Austin, Frederic, 321, 228 
Azucena, 126 

_-, 18^148 

Barnentoi, 195 

Ban, 161-2 

Bartolo, 40, 209, 2x8 

Barilio, Don, 40, 155, 209 

Bassi, 215-7, 230, 232 

Battiatmi, 13, 30, 90, 109-12, 149, 207, 

2IO-IX, 24X 

Baucis, 139 

Bauenneater, 134 

Bayreuth, 85, 174 

B3.G., 15 

Beecham. 221, 225-6, 229, 237-8 

Benindom, 153, 161 



Bender, 338-9 

154, 209 

Bertini, 137 
Bertram, 914 
, 145 

i, 40, 50 

, 49, 122, 189 

=r W 152, 154, 158, x6x-9, 165, 
168-9, 177 
Blanchart, 138 
Blass, 194 

Bohs, 39, 40, 50, 59 
Bono, 30, 181, 195-61 215, 218, 230 
Boninaegna, 300-3, 307 
Bonnard, 169, 174 
Bosetti, 904, 214, 238 
Bottesini, 177 
Bouhy, 89 
Bouvet, 140, 165 
Brandt, 8?-7 

Brangtae, 86, 147, 177. 192-4, 214 
Brazzi, 165 

Brema, 137-8, x68, 173, 177, 214 
, 153, 203 

Breval. 176, 178, 2x2 
Broadfoot, see de Cimeros 
Broch, 107 
Broxnbara, 137 
D --- ', x6x-a 

12, 22, 165-9, 173-3, 185, 205, 
211, 217, 220, 239 

Brynn, 217 

Buckingham Palace, 12, 18, 104, 123, 148 

Burrian, 239 


Calve, Plate 13: 3, 39. 98, 114, 141-2, 130, 
153-4. 157, x6x, 163, 174, 176, 185, 187, 
190,. 1.95, 200, 204-5, 208, 213, 245 

, 42, 46-7, go-x, 64-5, 72, 202, 232 
, 109, 151-2, 208-9 

50, 54. 59, 63 
________ t 101 

Carl Rosa, 92, 117 

Carl Rosa Company, 18, 36, 73, 89, 91, 117-19 

Carlton Hotel, 55 

Carmen, Plates xoa, 13: 13, 18, 60, 62-5, 
95-100, 1x5, 122, 135, 140-2, 147, 153, 
i6x, ,204, 213 
Carpi, 48, 50, 212 
Carrion, 57 
Caruso. 13, 30, 109, 113, "7, 151, 176, 

.188-219, 233, 241 
Casno, 919 
Castdmary, 94, 120, 144, 156-7, 162-5 

fTar.|ttlflni ) 43 

Cataneo, 118 
Cavalien, 220, 234 
Cavaradossi, 180, 206 
Caylus, 107 
Cenerentola, 45 
Cepeda,4, 63, 98, 105 


^erubmo, 47, 64, 88, 169, 240 
Caborley, 88 
Ciainpi, 40, 55, 1x2, 134, X39, 155 

Cid, Le,io8 
Claudius, 226 
Coates, Albert, 239 
Coates, John, 22tho 
ComnuuKier (Don Gwaanm), 123 
Constantino, 205 
Consul, 178, 207 
', ax x 

, 217, 220-1, 232 

i 139, 156 

Costa, 61, 65, 72 

Cotogni, 33-4, 40, 63-4, 69, 89-91, 105, 113, 

Cotreuil, 200 

Covent Garden, Royal (Italian) Opera 

Platea,7,i5, 19.30:11,13, 

32 ttpatsun. 
Craig-y-lSfos, 44 
Cramer, 147 
Gremonini. 148, 165 
Crystal Palace, 166 

' 238 
F Mail, 2x0, 245 

" " , 202 


, 22X 

_*s, 109-200, 204r5, 231-2 
^Alvarez, Marguerite, 234 
DVAndrade, 98, 105. 113, 1x9-21 
D'Angen, 39, 46, 48, 50 
Dam, 202 
Danse, Jos6, 235 
Dauphin, xoo 
Davey, Murray, 223 

De Anna, 96, 107 

Dearth, Harry, 228 

De Bclocca, 45, 47, 58-9, 94 

De Bohuss, 209 

De Cianeros, 201, 203 

De Grey, Lady, 1x4 

Delna, 156 

Del Puente, 52, 58, 61, 65, 91, 96, 99, 103* i xo, 


Del Torre, 147 
De Luca, 2x0, 22 7 229 
De Lucia, so, xoo, 1x2, 141-2. X49-54 160^5, 

175, Z7, xoo, 182, 208-10, 2x8, 227, 
_ 243, 245 _ 
De Lussan, Plate xoa: 17-19, 113-123, 

133-6, 141-2, X47-8, 153. x6o-x, 169, 
j, T x ,Wi.i78 185, 204, 213, 226-7 

De Never*, Gomte, 46, 178, 223 

De Reszke, Edouard, Plate 9: x x, 30, 67, 69, 
82, 89-91, 1 08, no, xx2, 1x5, 1x9-21, 
133-6, 144, 153-8, 161, 165-72, 177-8, 

De Reszice, Jean, Plates 1, 15: xi, 15-17, 21, 
29, 30, 34, 43-7, 5i-5 80, 107-123, 

TV I3a ^ J**-6^. 1 53-79, 185-^, 197, 222-3 

De Reszke, Josephine, 80-1, xo8, 176 

Deschamps, 140, 144, 146, 153 

Detdemona, 57, "8, 135. X4O-7, 160, 166, 2x9 

DCS Grieux, 132, 201 

Despnn, Plate 17: X3i 30, 35, X49, 151, I53, 
196-7, 204-6, 2x1, 215, 222-3, 230-1, 240 

De Tura, 236 

De Vere, 109, 182 

Devoyod, 91, 105 



Devries, zoo 
Dewman. 12 
D*Hardelot, 17 

Filina, 73, 83 
Flon, 182 

Diagbilev, asz 
Didur, 208, 240 
Dimitresco, 127 
Di Murska, 66, 83 

Flower Maiden, 12 
Foil, 58, 65, 94,99, no, 115 


Dtepel, 169-70, 174, 177 

Fonss, 239 

Di Spasm* 140 

Forchhaznzner, 229 

D'Oisly, 238 

Forsytn, Neil, 215 

Dolmetsch, Arnold, 170 
Don and t Donna, see tinder appropriate 

Forty Tears ofSonf, 28 

Christian names 

Franz, Paul, 22 z, 232 

Donalda, 13, 204-6, 330 

FrapoUi, 60, 83, 94 


Friar, zss 

Dotti, 6, 1x6 

Fricka, 158, x68, 187 

Drog, 64 

Fritz, 245 

Drury Lane Theatre, 31-4, 39, 41* 5O, 85, 
^ 98-9, 107, 138, 242, 244 

Frdhstr&me, 96, 107 
Fursch-Madi(cr), 81, 88, 90, 



Duchesne, 100 

Dufiiche, 8fi, 134, Z42, Z47-J, 158 

Duke of Mantua, 40, 186, 189-90, 305 

Du Maurier, 222-3 

Durand, 90 

Duiixu, zi8 

Dux, 338-9 

Eames, n, 17, 30, 68, 132-6, 146-7, 156-7, 

161, 163, 169, Z73, 185-6, 204-5, 241 
Easton. 2201 

Edvina, 220-3, 23*1, 236-7, 240 

Elandi, 137 

Eldrtra, 235 

Elijah, 192 

Elizabeth (TowiA&iwr), Plate *a: az, 48, 181, 

2 IX, 239 

Elsa, zx, 22, 35, 46, 63-4, 133, 140, 147, 149, 

165, 197, 214-5 

Elvira, Donna, 13, 22, 182, 197 
Emperor of Germany, 136 
EndehAndriessen, 145 

, Marie, zos 

*" 6l, 89, 100, 122, 148, 153, 178, 
203, 2Z2 

Esty, Z75 . 

Eugene Onegin, 149, 21 z 

Eurydice, Plate xa: 305 

Fabbri, xog-io 

Faccio, 1x8 

Fainer, 2x7 

Falstaff, X54-5, 160, 215, 240 

Fancelli, 56-8 

Fasolt, 217 

Fassbender-Mottl, 194 

Faure, 30, 33, 40, 44, 50-4, 57-8, 68, 141 

Faust, 45, 73, 119, zss, 145, 147, Z73~4t 197, 

2O2, 2O8, 220, 240 

Feinhals, 214 

Fer, 234-5 


Fides-Devriei, zoo 

Field, Margery, six, 246 

Figaro, 40, 46, 95, z6z, 169, 195, 304, 309, 

3x8, 329 
Figner, 104-5 

^^ M 

Gadski, 176, 1 86, 21 1 
Gaiety Theatre, 97, zoo 
GaOhard, 70, 89 
GalH-Mari6, zoo 
Galassi, 47, 58, 65, zi6, zs6 
Garbin, 219-20 
Garden, Mary, 190, 222, 335 
Gargano, 139 

Gay, Maria, 62, 153, 2x2, 3x6 
Gayarre, 48, 54, 59, 63-4. 9L 97-8, 105, 12 z 
Germont, 2x1 

gemer, 47, 56, 60, 64-5, 122 
Ghasne, 153 
Gherlaon, 158 

Giachetti, 201-3, 207-8, 213, 215, 217 
Giannini, 96, 147 
Gianoli, see Bressler-GianoH 
Gflda, 40, Z73, 190, 197, 229 
Gilibert, 13, 155, 175, 190, 200, 2z8, 222 
,230, 232 

Giovanni, Don, Plate x6b: 13, 40, 43-6, 65, 

95, "I, 177, 190, 197, 229 
Giraldoni, 198 
Giraud, 151, 209 
Giuglini, 30 
Giufietta, 227, 234 
Glyndebourne, 51 
Goethe, 71 ' 

GorHtsky, 242 
Gramophone, the. 16 

GrazinL 33-4, 40, 49, 59, 69 
Green, Richard, 151, 162 
Grehagg, 145 

Gulbranson, 181 
Gurnemanz, 239 
Gutrune, 12 

Gye, Ernest, 58, 62, 68, 79-82, 87, 92 
Gye, Frederick, 27, 32-9, 42, 48-50, 53-4, 58, 
, zo 7 , 




Hamilton Harty, Lady, see Nicholls 

Hamlet, 996 

Hammerstein, 69, 79, a 12, 933-6 

Hfinsel, 999 

Hardy, Thomas, 993 

Harris. Augustus, Plate xob: 36, 79, 89, 99, 

90-9,107-8, us-*!, 195, 197, i3, 


Harris, Laura, see Segur 
Harrold, 933-4 
Hatchard, 990 
Hauk, 17, 60-5, 91-9, 99, 103, no, 114-15, 

118-19, 133 

Hayes, Samuel, 83-4, 92-5 
Hedmondt, 140 
Hedon, 176 
Heilbron, 39, 41, 63 
Helen, 79, 199, 208 
Housing, 939 
HenseL 939, 939 

Her Majesty's Opera, 90, 98, 31, 58, 97 
Her Majesty's Tlieatre, 55, 64-5, 74-5. 84, 

W '& 1 94> 100 " 1 IoB "3 
Hero, zoo 

Herod, 181, 900, 998, 934 
Herodiade, 117, 900, 999 
H<M, Vuheim, 197, a 14 
Hibberd, Stuart, 16 
Hill, Carmen, 187 
Hill, John, 67 
Hill, Lucille, 181 
Homer, Louise, 177 

,, 939 
Hunding, 165, #17, 991 
Hutt, 939 
Hyde, 9x7, 9126 

lago, Plate z6a: 57, 1x8, 135, 160, 909, 919 
Irving, 117 

Isolde, 93, X5> 165-8, 172, 176-7, 190, 193-4, 

Jim dt Rtszk* (by Clara Leiser), 146 

Jemmy, jj 

John me Baptist, 108, 900 

Joran, 149, 154, 160 

Jose, Don, 61, xoo, 109, 1x5, 199, 148, 156, 

_ 173, 189, 903, 2X9, 999 

Jouraet, 13, 167, 173, 178, 182, 195-200, 993 


Julien, xoo, 999, 935 

Juliette, Plate I4b: 133, 136, 139, 167, 173, 

Jupiter, 144 

Klein, Herman, 17, 44, 49, 66-% 88, 95, 106, 

108, 194, 137, 141, 143, 146, 179, 196 
jsjingsor, 939 
Klytemnestra, 995, 998 
Knowles> 9x7 
Knttpfer. 938-9 

Kraus, Ernst, x8z, 9x1, 9x4, 998 
Krauu, 86 

Krauss, Felix von, 9x4 
Kundry, 939 
Kupter-Berger, xxo 
Kurt, Melame, 939 

Kurvenal, 86, 154, 165, 179-3, 177, 193-4 
Kurz, 197-900, 905, 9x5 

Lablache, 30 
LaduS ReaJm, xoo 
Laertes, 996 
Lafitte, 9x9 
Lafont, 935 

Lago, 97-9, 104-8, 195, 127, 132, 136, 
X39-4I, 148-52 

T iflpgnftm Hotel x8 

I f fl Palme, 998 

La Scala, Milan, 58, 94, Ii7-x8, 151, 917 

Lassalle,Plate6a:44,63, 89, 113, xx 5 , 190-3, 

133-5, 146, 150, 153, x68 

Laura, 190 

Leffier-Burchardt, 914 

Trfthnrinnn, Lilli, 73, 93, 106-7, 177-8 

T>hrnar^ LottC, 938 

Leider, 194 

Leiser, 80, xxo, 194, 146, 157, 169, 164, 179 

Lemon, Marguerite, 930 

Leonora (LaFaoorita,), 43. 194 

Leonora (Fidttio), 87 

Leonora (// Trovatort), 88 

Leporello, xxo, 169, 197 

Lherie, ica 

Litvinne, 176, 178, 190, 9x4, 9x6 

Lloyd, 166 

Lofling, 915 

Lohengrin, u, 46, 49, 57, 290, 136 

Ixihsc, 158, 186, 194 

London Opera House, 51, 69, 183, 933 

Lord Chamberlain, 900, 29 1 

Lorrain, 140 

Louise, 999 

Lubin, 194 

Lucca, 39,87-?, "4, 15 

Lucreaa Borgia, Plate < 

Luppi, 9x6 

Lyceum, 83, 117, 135, xoo 

LypkowsSa, 931 

Kalisch, 107 
Kappel, 936 
Kefiogg, 64-5 
Kiess, 939 

King Edward VII, xoo 
Bang George V, 931 

King Henry the Fowler, n, 83, 133, 136, 9x4 
King Mark, 86, 165, 177, 193-4 
King of Castile, 69, 138 
King of Egypt, 932 
f Spain, 905 

King of S 

Kirfcby Lunn, 19, 165, 187, 190, 193-4, 196, 

.199, 200, 90S, 9X9-15, 291, 23O-I 

. 145, 158 

Maclntyre, 113, 1x5, 1x9, 190, 137, 161-3, 

170, x8*-9 

Mackenzie, Sir Compton, 16 
Maclennan, aao-i 
Madame Butterfly, 197, 906-7 


Maitland, 194 
Malatesta, 904 
Malibran, 30, 73 
Malten, 86-7 

Mandnclli, 19, xxo, 122, 182 
Manners, 196, 149, 169 



Manna, 166 

Manon, 167, sox 

Mazuico, 336 

Mantelli, 165 

Mantilla, 59,64 

Mapleson, Plate sa: 17, so, 28, 33-6, 

41-1 19 passim, 136, 141 
MapUsan Memoirs, the, 17, 98, 45, 126 
Marak, 219-20 
Marcellina, 181 

Marccllo (Let Huguenots), 68, 293-4 
MarceUo (La Bohtou), 178 
Marches!, Blanche, 17, si, 198 

Marches!, Mathilde, 39, 66, 72, 81, 103, 113. 
1x6, I33i 147, 167, 198, 297, 233 

Marconi, 90-1 

Marcoux, see Vanni-Marcoux 

Marshal, 191 

Margherita, 53, 62, 64, 72* 82, 88, 100, 117. 
li9i 133, 153, 156, 173, 177, 198, 8O2, 246 

Marimon, 33, 38, 62, 64, 84 

Marini, 33, 50, 82, 118 

Mario, 30, 54, 98, 105, no, 124 

Martin, Riccardo, 223 

Martinelli, 196, 236-7, 240 

Martini, 140 

Maacherom, 159 

Mathilde, 244 

Matiuzri, ii$ 

Maurel, Plate 3l>: 21, 30, 33-4, 40-8 t 58-9, 
67, 69, 89, 98, 108-11, 117-18, 134-5, 
151, 154-^, i6o-3, 178, 202, 204, 207, 

Mayer, 97, roo, 117 

.act, 215, sil 

230, 232, 240 

Melba, is, 21, 30, 39, 68, 109, 113-14, i?9, 
122-3, 132-6, 144-7, 151-333 passm, 

, 223 

Melot, 194 

Memories vfa ,__. , _. 

Mephistopheles, Plate 9: 40, 53, 89, too, 120, 

,, 133,153,302 

Messager, 13, 186, 194 

Mtssiah, 199 

Metropolitan Opera, New York, 170 

Metzger, 299 

Mey, 104^5 

Micaela, 13, 22, 61, 122, 134, 140, 147-8, 

. '53., 156, 173, 103-4, 313 

Mierzwnsky, 80 

MjjEnon, 65, 97 

MUdenburg, 194, 2x1, 225, 228-9 

Mjmi, ? 2, 175, 176, 182 

Miranda, 119, x8x 

Monari-Rocca, 99, 107 

Montariol, 119, 146 

Monti, 63 

Moody, 126, 149, 160 

Moody-Manners Opera Company, 196 

Moran-Olden, 154 

Mravina, 133-4 

Musetta, x?5, 181-2, 198, 206 

Musiani, 137-8 
Muzio, 240 

Nachbauer, 85 
Nanetti, 72, 82 

National Opera House, 52 
Nawarini, Francesco, xxo 
Nawarini, Vittorio, xxo 

Nedda, 151-2, 160, 178, 209 

Neumann. 84-5 

Nevada, Emma, 17, 20-1, 72-3, 103, 133, 136, 

xg8, 2x0, 226-7 
Nevada, Mignon, 39, 226-9 
Nicholls, xx, 17, 22, 2x1, 215, 2x7 
Nicolini, 30, 33, 4O-I, 44, 46-50, 55, 88, 99 
Nielsen, Alice, 197, 202-3, 209-10 
Niemann, 84 
Nijinsky, 231 
Nikisch, 164, 2x4 
Nilsson, 30, 34~5, 39, 43, 46-7, 53, 56-7, 

64-5, 68, 72, 82-3, 89 
Noctambulist, 223, 235 
Nordica, 102-3, no, 112, 1x5, 119-20, 123, 

132, 134, 153, 171, i73, 177-8, 190 
Not*, 168 
Novara, 107 
Nuovina, 123, 156, 200 

Oberlander, 147 
O'Brien, Alice, 223 
Ochs, 238 

Olctavian, 204, 237-8 
' , 227, 329 

>, 158, 177-8 

__ _ (r icatre, 148 

O'Mara, 156, 228 

Opera Comique. 139 

Ophelia, 39, 226 

Ordinal, 75 

Orfeo, Plate ia: 126 

Orsini, 1 15 

Ortruda, xx, 39, 46, 57, 135-6, 140, 147. 158, 

180, 190, 214 

Oscar HammersUin I (by Vincent Sheenan), 933 
Oselio, 107 

Otello, Plate i6a: 120, 135, 147, x6o, 162, 

202, 207, 3X9 
Ottavio, Don, 178, 182, 190, X97 
Oudin, 149 
Oxilia, 107 

Pacary, 174 

Padni, xx6, 190 

Padffla, 84, 94~5, 103, 107, 116 

Pallas, 199 

Palliser, 147-8 

Pamina, 22 

Pamtalis, 82 

Pandolfini, 54, 98, x xo 

Panizza, 232 

168, 214 

Pappenheim, 60, 65 
Pans (of Troy), 199 
Paris Opra, 70, 108, 117, 
Parldna, 182, 198-9, 205 
Paroli, 1x8 
Parratt, 12 
Parsifal, 239 

Pasquale, Don, 55 

itea 4b. I4a: 20, 30-, 
D, 80, 88, ox, 95-9, i 
159-62, 190, 218, 297, 

Patti, Ptefc 


153, i 
Paiall, 175 
Pelleas, 223 
Perotti, 127, 134 
Peschier, 107 

X4a: 20, 30-45, 49, 55-9, 
104-8, 122-3, 

Pessma, 154, 160 
Pctzl-Perard, 229, 232, 238-9 



Phillips, H.B., an 

Pini-Corsi, 154-5* 161-2, igo, 208-9 

Pjnkert, 122-3, 133-4 

Pinto, 217 
Pitt, 232 
Plaichinger, 228, 230 

Plan, Plate i8a: 132-5, 144, 153-6, 
163-70, 174, 177-8, 187, 195, 199, 200, 

Flunket Greene, 123 

Fontiggia, 242-3 

President of France, 195, 219 

Prevost, 104, 113 

Prince of Wales, 18, 99, no 

Princess von Werderburg, 237-8 

Pringle, Lempriere, Plate 15: 168, 177 

Queen Gertrude of Denmark, 226 
Queen Marguerite de Valois, 62, 120, 122, 
127, 156, 178, 181, 197, 323-4 
n of Night, 62, 67,83 
n's Hall, la, 187 

.Victoria, 18, 56, 99, 102, 123, i37i 
18, 168, 185 
Eft Mistress, 154 
ote, Don, 235 

Radames, 49, 65, 120, 147, 168, 203, 207, 239 

Radford, 217, 221, 226 

Raisa, 240 

Ramphis, 63, 232 

Randegger, no, 122 

Raoul, 120, 122, 136, 189, 223-4 

Ravellij73-4j 91, 99, 103, 113, H5, 122, 133-6 
Ravogk, Giulia, Plate ia: zi, 125-6, 133-6, 

142, 144. 147, 1 53-4, 16 1-3, 1 78-9 
Ravogli, Sophia, Plate za: 125-6, 132, 136, 

144,147, 179 
cbgr-ECfan <tt r > n fl 'nTi , 84 

Salla, 58 

Salom$, 200, 228, 234 

Saltzmann-Stevens, 220 

Sammarco, 151-2, 198, 203, 207, 215-20, 

223, 231-2, 236-7 
Samson, 221 

San Bris, Plate i8a: 68, 223-4 
San Carlo, Naples, 200 
Sancho Panza, 235 
Sanden, 238 
Sanderson, 132-3 
Sandman. 12 
Santley, 66, 166, 179 
Santuzza, 137-8, 141, 147, 161 
Sardou, 180, 203 
Satan 81-2 
Saville, 167 
Scalar, 2x5 
Scakhi, 33, 4O, 49, 5879, 64, 81, 91, 98, 105, 

113, 120, 123, 196 
Scandiani, 2x2 

" " ^ 
, 178, 198 

, 13 

Schefi; 1 8 1-2, 190 
Scheidemantel, 93 
Schlager, 120 
Schumann, Elizabeth, 238 
Schumann-Heink. 145, x68, 177, 187 
Scotti, Plates loa, i6b, x8c: 13, 152, 154, 

160, 176-8, 181-2, 197-200, 204-7, 2x2, 

2x9, 223, 930, 240 
Scovell, 140 

Reichmann, 84, 145 

Rein, 194 

Renato, 09 

Renaud, 168, 170, 174-8, 185, 190, 195, 197, 


Richard, 121, 123, 132 
Richtar, 13, 72, 85, 92, 106, 195-6, 217, *2O 
Rodolfb, 189, 206 
Romeo, Plate i: 21, no, 136, 139, 153, 170, 

173,178,197,832 rt 
Ronald, Landon, 203, 208 
Rosina, 45, 94-5, 148, 195, 209-10, 227 

B of Music, 17 

Royal (Italian) Opera, see Govent Garden 
Raze, 36, 57, 05, 118-19 

Runcio,Ji8, 6x^ 75, 98, no, 116, 118 

Russ, 190 

RusselL Ella, 98, 105, 113, 119-23 
Russell, Henry, ao8, 244 
Russian Ballet, 2314 

Sachs, 86, 120, 172, 205 

Sala, 147 

SaUza, 173, 175-8, 185-6, 190 

Salignac, 167, 175, 178, 185-6, 197, 199 

Sembrich, 67-70, 88, 161 

Senta. 66, an, 228 

SeveiUiac, 187 

Shaftesbury Theatre, 136, 139, 152 

Shah of Persia. 120 

Shaw, Bernard, 68, 112, 157-8 

SibariakotT, 2'$2 

SiebeL 120, 187, 198 

Siegfried, 145, 167, 169, 173, x8x, 211, 214, 

217, 220, 232 

Sieglinde, 22, 158, 168, 173, 217, 220 
Siegmund, 165, 173, 2x7, 232 
Siema, 237 
Silvestri, 64, 118 
Silvio, 151, 161 
Simmonet, 139-40, 156 
Sinico, xox 
Slezak, 181 
Sophie, 224, 238 
Stabile, 155 
Stahl, 81, 89, 91 
Stehle, 151 
Stignani, 187 

Stoll Theatre, see London Opera House 
Strakosch, 1767, 100 
Strand Theatre, see Waldorf Theatre 
Stromfield, 127 
Strong, XT, 167-9 
Sucher, 86, 145, 171 a 
Sunday 7ww t 143, 146 
Suianna, 161, 109 
Suzuki. 206 
Swfl~Mrs., 79 



Talazac, n< 

Talazac, iig 

Tamagno, Plate x6a: 13, 21, 48, x x x, 1 17-18, 

135, 160-3, 168, 176, 185, 187, 219 
Tamberfck, 57, iax 

158, xgo 



Teodorini, t_ 

Ternina, is, 171-4, i8o-z, 193, 194, six 

Terry, 229 

Tesa, 223 

Tus oftfu d'UrlmiUts, 223 

Tetrazzini, Elvira, xai 

Tetrazzini, Luisa, 131, 196, 3x3, 2x6-20, 

223-4. 30, 333, 24* 
Teyte, aafl-g, 240 
Thalberg, 43, 59 
Thornton, 2x5, 220, 228 
TOMS, the, 40, 48, 162 
Titiens, Plate 6b: x6, 30, 34-6, 39, 42-3, 46, 

.52, 55-6o, 141, 196-7 
Tonio, 149-52, 178* 209 

5*?Ji, 71 ' r8o I97 a01 
Tosti, Plate x8c: 202 

Trcbelli, 33, 47, 58, 62, 65, 7*, 75, 81-2, 103, 

107, "3-15, 153, 197 
Tremeih, 60, 81-2, 91, no, 116-17 
Trentini, 182, 206-7 
Tribschen, 1x9 
Triitan, 86, 93, 154, 163-4, 168, 172, 176, 

190, 193-4, axx, 214, 228, 239 

Turridu, 137, 142, 147, 15*, 215 

Urbano 126, 156, 178, 180, 223-4 
Urlus, 228-9, 239 

Valda, 98, iig, 137, 139 

Valentina (LesHugufnot*), 81, 88, 98, 120, 122, 

178, x8x, 196, 223 
Valentine (Faust), 43, 46, gx, 100, 119, 163, 


Valero, 12 z 
Valkyrys, 165, 172 
Vallandri, 234 

Valleria, 36, 58, 61,88-9, 118 
Van der Decken, 172 
Van Dyck, 132-3, 146, 164, 168, 170, 173, 

186, 190-4, 214 

Van Hdlst, 239 

Vanni-Marcoux, 304-5, 2x8, 220 

Van Rooy, 13, 172-8, 177, 187, 190, 193-4. 

205, 2 II, 232 
Van Zandt, 04, 97 
Vawsi, 45, 47, 53 

Venus, 22, 48, 93, 158, 199, 2ix, 239 
Vergnet, 100 
Vlanesi, 34, 49 
Vjflnas, 137-8, 142, 152, 161-2, 203, 216 

Vincent, Ruth, 228-9 

Violetta, Plate Z4a: 31, 63, 68, 83, xao, 167, 

2X0, 246 

Vizzani, 75, 83, 94, 101 

Waldorf Theatre, 208, 244 

Walker, Edyth, x8o, 194, 225, 228-30 

Walter, Bruno, 226 

Walter von Stoking, 86, 120, 197 

Wanderer, 169, 220 

Warnery. 223 

, 197, 205, 217, 220-1, 226 
i 158 


_____ ,Mathilde,6o 

Windsor Castle, 18, 123, 137, 148 


Wittich, 205 
Wolf: Sophie, 238 
Wolfram. 211 
Wood, Henry, 150 
Worxnser, 18 

Wotan, 84, 145, 154, 165, 172-3, 187, 205, 
217, 221 

Ysaye, 214 

Zenatello, 151, 160, 206-8, 215, 219-20, 223-4 
Zerbna (Don Gwtwmw), 43, ox, 64, 98, 120, 

122. 182, 197, 24O 

Zerlina [Pra Diavolo), 188